Agency vets rally around Bloomberg political campaign
Michael Bloomberg has been quietly recruiting a small army of veteran advertising execs, agencies and former creatives from shops like McCann and VaynerMedia to work on his 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign.
Goodby Silverstein & Partners Co-Chairman-Partner Jeff Goodby, BarrettSF Founder-Executive Creative Director Jamie Barrett and former GroupM North American CEO Tim Castree are among the advisors working independently on the campaign, according to people close to the matter. GS&P and BarrettSF are not involved, those people said.
Goodby and Barrett declined to comment while Castree did not return requests for information. Bloomberg Campaign Spokesperson Julie Wood did not immediately return a request for comment.
Politico previously reported that Assembly is Bloomberg’s media agency. While Assembly declined to comment, one person interviewed for this story says the MDC Partners-owned agency is handling all offline media buys for the campaign. According to Politico, Bloomberg’s Super Bowl spot on Sunday will mention the media mogul and former New York City mayor running against President Donald Trump (who will also air a Super Bowl ad) three times.
Campaign Spokesperson Wood also confirmed to CNBC in an earlier report that tech firm Hawkfish would be the "primary digital agency and technology services provider for the campaign." It was not immediately clear what creative agency or creative execs worked on the Big Game spot.
According to people interviewed for this story, New York-based The Engine Group and Human, a two-person startup shop, are working on the overall presidential campaign as well. The Engine Group declined to comment and Human did not return a request for comment.
The people say that there are also several “Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue” players resigning or taking sabbaticals from their employers to work on the campaign.
A list of “Team Bloomberg” employees on LinkedIn reveals that Tim Nolan, a former Havas employee, is the creative lead on the campaign. “Team Bloomberg” also includes Mike Zuckerman, whose LinkedIn shows he left VaynerMedia, where he was a creative director, in January; Spencer MacDonald’s LinkedIn says he left Edelman, where he was a media strategist of corporate and public affairs, to become the campaign’s New York digital and social director in January; and Chris McMurtey’s professional profile shows he joined the campaign as a creative in December and previously was a VP creative director and copywriter at McCann Worldgroup.
None of those former agency executives responded to requests for comment. Edelman confirmed that MacDonald resigned from the agency. McCann confirmed McMurtey is no longer with the agency. The Internet could not be reached for comment and VaynerMedia did not respond to Ad Age’s queries.
Bloomberg has been pouring an excessive amount of money into his campaign, headquartered in New York's Times Square. The people interviewed for this story say "Team Bloomberg" is comprised of various teams dedicated to paid media, digital analytics, targeting, content, strategy, optimization and other duties.
According to the latest Ad Age Datacenter analysis of campaign ad spending in partnership with Kantar/CMAG, Bloomberg has spent $246 million on political advertising since joining the Democratic presidential primaries.
According to the polls though, it doesn't seem likely that Bloomberg will be the Democratic frontrunner, even with all the millions he's dropped on advertising. Per a FiveThirtyEight meta-analysis of major national polls as of Jan. 23, Bloomberg is at 7.3 percent support, behind Joe Biden (26.6 percent), Bernie Sanders (20.4 percent), Elizabeth Warren (15.8 percent) and Pete Buttigieg (7.6 percent).
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Nolan's former employer.