McCain Beefs Up Ad Roster for General Election

Fred Davis Returns to Fold; Chris Mottola on Board

By Published on .

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Sen. John McCain's campaign has quietly tapped two veteran GOP advertising executives to bulk up the team for the fall fight, one of whom is Fred Davis, who had left last year during darker times for Team McCain.

Mr. Davis, of Strategic Perception, Los Angeles, and Chris Mottola, a Philadelphia consultant, have joined Mike Hudome on the Foxhole Productions media team now headed by Mark McKinnon, vice chairman of WPP Group's Public Strategies in Austin, Texas.

Mr. McKinnon has said in an interview with Texas Monthly last year that he would step down if Sen. Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination because he was unwilling to engage in the kind of attack advertising that would be needed against Mr. Obama during a presidential campaign.

He said this week he still supports Mr. McCain, but would become mainly a "cheerleader" if Mr. Obama won.

"If it's Hillary, I stay and blitz every play," he said.

Messrs. Davis and Mottola worked on the Bush Maverick Media ad team that was also headed by Mr. McKinnon, but the two are better known for work they each did in senatorial, congressional and gubernatorial campaigns for Republican candidates.

Mr. Mottola produced ads for Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., Arlen Specter, R-Pa. and New York Gov. George Pataki. The Specter race included a hard-fought 2004 primary challenge against conservative Pat Toomey. Mr. Mottola also was part of Rudy Giuliani's media team last year.

Mr. Davis often uses a slightly less serious approach to political advertising and was enlisted by Republicans to successfully right Bob Corker's campaign for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee in a widely watched race in which Mr. Corker faced then U.S. Rep. Harold Ford. He also handled the campaigns of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. He currently handles the cable industry's National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Mr. Davis is making a return engagement to the McCain campaign. He was one of the campaign's original ad consultants in early 2007, before the campaign started running low on funds and was forced to make major staffing cutbacks.

With no funds to pay ad consultants, Mr. McKinnon was subsequently pressed into service as the campaign's main ad strategist, working without pay.

Mr. Hudome, the head of MH Media, Alexandria, Va., and former executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, is a veteran GOP advertising executive who handled numerous GOP campaigns when he was with Pintak Gautier Hudome Agency. MH Media has been buying media for the McCain campaign.

Foxhole also includes Justin Germany, a 28-year-old web ad expert, pressed into duty as cameraman and editor; and it has included Mark Salter, the campaign's chief of staff and speechwriter, doing double duty as an ad copywriter.
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