Hires Second Ad Agency to Work on Creative

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WASHINGTON ( -- The campaign for Sen. John Kerry's presidential bid has added a second advertising agency to its roster, while breaking a new $18 million campaign for June.

The Kerry campaign is launching the effort,

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a 30-second spot, on broadcast TV in 19 battleground states and nationally on cable news and minority networks. The campaign last month broke a three-week, $27.5 million effort behind two 60-second biographical spots in those contested states.

Two ad agencies
The new spot was created by two ad agencies, Shrum, Devine & Donilon and Squier, Knapp & Dunn. The Kerry campaign today said the latter agency, which worked on President Clinton's campaigns, has been added to the roster to help with the general election. The two Washington-based agencies will work jointly on all future creative, the campaign said. Previously, Omnicom Group's GMMB worked with Shrum Devine during the Democratic primaries, but departed over a fees issue, though it continues to do the campaign's media buying.

The new Kerry spot is decidedly optimistic, portraying the Massachusetts Democrat as upbeat about America. "We're a country of the future. ... We're a country of optimists, we're the can-do people," the ad says, before launching into the candidate's platform issues. "For John Kerry, a stronger America begins at home. Real plans to create jobs here, not overseas; lower health care costs; independence from Middle East oil."

Kerry campaign officials today claimed its ads are working while President Bush's attack ads have backfired.

Consumers' impressions
"The evidence is quite clear that our ads in battleground states have given us quite a benefit," said Mark Mellman, the Kerry campaign's pollster, who said that last month's 60-second introductory ads lessened consumers' negative impression of Sen. Kerry while improving on his positive impression. (The campaign bought time on cable on national news channels and channels aimed at minorities for one of the 60-second ads in Virginia.) He said Mr. Kerry now has a five-point lead in the so-called battleground states.

"The president's ad campaign is really backfiring on him," Mr. Mellman said. "Voters have noticed and it has hurt the president in battleground states."

Campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said her campaign's ads will present a positive vision about America and called the Bush ads "an unheard of distortion of an incumbent's record. ... The Bush people don't have anything positive to talk about the future and have tried to distort John Kerry's [record]. It's not working."

Bush team's response
Matthew Dowd, a senior strategist for the Bush campaign, dismissed the contention that the president's ads are backfiring.

"Whatever they want to think is fine by me. We know what the facts are. The more voters are exposed to Sen. Kerry and his record, the more questions it raises about him as a leader," he said.

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