For ad campaigns, mayoral candidates look local, out of town

RVA Business Works hosted the candidates at the Virginia Historical Society for a forum in September. (Michael Thompson)

The candidates at a RVA Business Works forum in September. (Michael Thompson)

This year’s Richmond mayoral race is bringing new business to a number of local advertising firms, as well as to at least two out-of-town agencies.

TV spots for candidates Jack Berry and Levar Stoney have been airing on local stations for more than a month now, and several Richmond-based firms are rolling out more ads for other candidates in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Where Berry and others have looked local for their ads, pulling from the Richmond area’s wealth of marketing firms and production studios, Stoney, who has raised the most money in the field with $610,023, according to the latest campaign finance reports, enlisted Washington, D.C., firm Putnam Partners. That firm’s political ad work has included a 30-second spot and 30-minute TV special for Barack Obama for President.

Putnam Partners has created at least two TV ads for Stoney’s campaign: “Every Day,” which shows Stoney running and exercising in Richmond with a voiceover listing his mayoral goals, and “What It’s Like,” which highlights Stoney’s emergence from a single-parent household to become Virginia’s first black Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Asked why the Stoney campaign chose to work with Putnam Partners over other national or local agencies, communications director Matt Corridoni said the campaign had no comment on the topic.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, the Stoney campaign has spent $5,250 on online consulting services from New Blue Interactive, another D.C.-based marketing firm, and $278 to Google and Snapchat for software subscriptions. There was no specific line item for Putnam’s work for Stoney listed on the VPAP.

Meanwhile, Berry’s campaign has worked with several local firms, including Mechanicsville-based Marion Marketing and Richmond-based 903 Creative.

VPAP also shows a local company called TPOT that created two TV ads for Berry: “I’m with Jack,” showing the former Hanover County administrator and Venture Richmond director kayaking and discussing city government, and “Jack Can Fix It,” showing Berry as a handyman around town.

TPOT is led by Tim O’Toole, a local video director who is also a co-founder of Richmond ad agency Poolhouse. O’Toole emphasized that TPOT created the ads as its own company, which he said works with political and corporate clients across the country.

He said he pulled from Richmond’s creative community, working with firms including Poolhouse and production studio MadBox, to create the ads for Berry.

“Jack Berry has been integral in building the RVA creative community, and he’s a friend, so I was honored when he asked me to help,” O’Toole said.

Of the $375,441 the campaign had raised as of the latest report period – it announced late Tuesday it had raised an additional $160,000 in September – it paid TPOT $9,000 for its services, according to VPAP. It enlisted Marion Marketing for several services, paying the firm $3,180 for radio advertising, $1,720 for signs and campaign collateral, and $1,103 for newspaper ads in the Richmond Free Press, according to VPAP.

903 Creative was paid $488 for video support services, and the Berry campaign also worked with Mechanicsville-based Visual Appeal Studio on website design ($2,100), local printing company BizPort ($75) and PC Signs on campaign yard signs ($4,037).

Former state delegate Joe Morrissey, the current frontrunner in the race according to several recent voter polls, released a video Friday that was posted on WRLH Fox Richmond’s YouTube page. The 30-second video adds to radio spots and newspaper ads his campaign has been running for several weeks.

(Update: The Morrissey video was removed from the YouTube page shortly after this story published. An embedded version of the video originally included in this article has been removed.)

Morrissey campaign manager Deborah MacArthur would not say who the campaign worked with on its ads, stating the campaign was “completely booked between now and the election” and unable to respond to an inquiry from BizSense. A message left with Fox Richmond on Friday was not returned.

According to VPAP, of the $142,931 Morrissey’s campaign has raised, $6,759 was paid to Patriot Signs for political signs, $5,567 was paid to local consultant Kimberley Repp for website development, $964 was paid to Action T-shirts for campaign shirts, and $333 was paid for newspaper ads in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Last Tuesday, city council president Michelle Mosby released a radio ad attacking Morrissey. The 60-second spot, in which Mosby highlights Morrissey’s past legal troubles, was produced by Richmond-based Lythos Studios, which also worked on city councilman Bruce Tyler’s aborted campaign.

Lythos Studios’ Clay Hamner said his firm was hired by the Mosby campaign for media buying, audio and video production, and digital advertising management. He said he previously worked with locally based Tilt54 Studios on editing and filming for Tyler’s TV spot, which was filmed at Lythos’ office.

Hamner said when Tyler dropped out of the race in late-September, he asked that his remaining resources and campaign funds be used for Mosby’s campaign. He said he’s working for two entities: the Mosby campaign directly, and A Stronger Richmond Community PAC, a political action committee founded to oppose Morrissey.

Lythos created two versions of the radio spots and said three video versions of the ads would be released today via a digital campaign with LIN Media. He said the radio spots were airing on Praise 104.7 FM and Kiss 99.3 and 105.7 FM through Election Day.

According to VPAP, of the $26,201 Mosby’s campaign had raised by the latest reporting period, it paid $2,063 to Signs on the Cheap for campaign signs, $664 to Vista Print USA Inc. for door hangers and car mats, $339 to Maples Media Group for web services, and $430 to Nicholas Briley for video media and a campaign promotional video.

City councilman Jon Baliles’ VPAP listing does not show money spent on TV, print or radio ads. Of $98,649 raised, $832 was paid to Printersmark for palm cards and campaign literature, and $109 was paid to and DropBox for web hosting services.

Candidate Bobby Junes spent the bulk of the $1,370 he had raised on printing services from Zoom Printing, which was paid $1,250. SnapSiteUS was paid $20 for website services.

Candidate Lawrence Williams had raised no funds by the latest reporting period, according to VPAP.

Attempts to reach the Berry, Mosby, Baliles, Junes and Williams campaigns for comment were not successful.

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