Media consultant Mark Putnam says he can't remember ever cutting 21 versions of the same TV ad, but that's what his firm did recently for Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle. The Nebraska Democrat, who's running for his second term, released a TV spot yesterday that has a voiceover which changes every 24 hours to reflect the number of days since the shooting massacres at Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo. and Westroads Mall in Omaha. On Wednesday the mayor is heard saying in the ad: "It’s been 89 days since Newtown. 236 days since Aurora. 1,924 days since the mass shootings at the Westroads Mall. And Washington still hasn’t banned assault weapons." The ad, which went up Tuesday, is set to run until the first round of voting in the civic election April 2.
"We just saw this as a creative way to get people's attention and deliver a message the mayor cares about," Putnam told C&E. Producing the ad required an extra hour of shooting and almost an additional day of post-production editing because of the voiceover. Delivering the ad to Omaha's five broadcast stations and two cable providers was also labor intensive. Each outlet has its own specs for advertising so Putnam Partners had to create a digital file to those specifications and then upload it to their FTP sites. Using an FTP upload rather than delivering the ad through DG or Extreme Reach saved Suttle's campaign money. But it was still an expensive proposition. "It probably double the cost, maybe a little more than a typical ad," Putnam said. Still, he added, there are benefits to spending the extra cash. "You have to do everything you can to make political advertising intriguing to voters otherwise people are going to tune it out," he said. "Tying these three events together makes it compelling and it gives the ad immediacy and helps the voters remember it." The running total could also help get voters to the polls, which is crucial in low-turnout civic elections. For Putnam, this was the first time his firm had tailored an ad to reflect a running total.
"There are probably ads for furniture sales that do this but I've never seen it done in politics," he said.