Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Political campaigns should"buy local" for visual media production

In today’s economic environment in Maine, the economic impact of film production is imperceptible because of factors beyond our immediate control.

What does have an impact is visual media production.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s many Maine visual media production companies were supported by companies producing corporate videos, infomercials, national commercials and local commercials with substantial budgets.

Today that has all changed. Technology and the internet have made the production and distribution of visual media available to everyone. Companies no longer have the same advantages of the past where expensive equipment and relationships gave them the advantage they needed to run profitable companies.

The process has made the production companies that have survived, leaner and more creative in their visual media endeavors.

This fall we are in the middle of a heated gubernatorial campaign. What also heats up during campaigns is the production of visual media. Like a farmer who tends his crops all year waiting for the fall harvest to make his money, political campaigns invest in visual media that becomes part of the local producers harvest.

Back in August I contacted all the candidates running for Governor and asked them who they hired for the visual media production.

When I called the Moody for Governor Headquarters, Jason answered the phone and explained to me that Black Fly Media is doing their visual media production. Nice. This is a great local company. Please click on the link to get more information and consider them for you local production needs.

John Morris from the Lepage for Governor Campaign called back and told me that Sunderland Weston in Bangor was producing their visual media and that they had a consultant in Portland hiring local producers. He assured me that everything they are producing is done locally.

David Loughran from the Mitchell for Governor Campaign wrote back to me, “We are using The Campaign Group (http://www.campaigngroup.tv/index.html) to do our television ads. It is the same firm the campaign used in the primary. Their experience in political campaigns and their expertise in the creative arena are both impressive.”

The Campaign Group has offices in Philadelphia and California.

In addition, the Mitchell campaign has hired gum spirits productions to do some local production. They do terrific work.

Abby Cutler from the Cutler for Governor Campaign wrote,

” As for our production companies, we use Devine Mulvey (based in D.C.) for our T.V. spots. At least five of their crew is from Maine, including their PAs. They also make a point of buying all crew lunches and breakfasts from local companies.”

“We've also used Sally Levi (formerly at Lone Wolf, now a freelancer) to shoot a couple of gubernatorial forums and some outros, and Michael Babyak, who has shot some interviews for us and also does some editing for the campaign.”

Abby also took the time to meet with me at the Cutler campaign headquarters.

Kevin Scott called me back and I had a nice conversation with him. He hadn’t hired anyone for visual media production. I’d suggest we find someone to produce a safe driving video for him.

Of the five candidates two buy local, two import and buy local and one doesn’t have the funds to produce visual media.

What I would like to see in the next election is everyone buying 100% local. For example, I did some research and, as of the end of August, the Cutler campaign had paid over $70,000 to Devine Mulvey. While they are hiring local crew, most of that money goes out of state.

The same is true for the Mitchell campaign.

I know that there are resources right here in Maine for all Maine political campaign visual media production. Please be aware of that as you watch future campaign commercials.

Oh, and you’ll never see visual media littered on the side of the road after a campaign!


Andy Graham said...

I had a similar experience - I am volunteering on a local campaign, and inquired ho was printing the signs. I was told that they were using a printer found on the internet who was very satisfactory. I suggested the BuyLocal was something that everyone in the room with me claimed to support, and perhaps they should find a local printer and offer the same budget to them. They are now happily using Dale Rand for their signs and other printing.

Good for you for making those calls - and shame on Elliot Cutler for espousing a strong Creative Economy message while sending his dollars out of state for visual production.

Matt Mattingly said...

It's so true. It's a shame that our tax money is spent outside the state of Maine by people trying to run for office inside the state. As a candidate myself, I have taken great care to spend money right here at home. Often spending significantly more than I would otherwise but it is important to me that our tax money is spent here at home.

In fact, my opponent during his 2008 Senate race spent 75% of his clean election money with a firm in Baton Rouge LA. I don't know about you and your business but I remember what was happening only two years ago as the market was plummeting, people were being laid off and Augusta was finding 102 new ways to tax us while our elected officials were spending our tax money out of the state.

We deserve better. Even Augusta banks out of state. Keep up the pressure and keep asking questions.

Matt Mattingly

Michele Stapleton said...

You didn't mention still photography, so I will. On that basis I know that the Cutler campaign did buy local as they hired me on several occasions to photograph events for them and to create images to be used in advertising. And, they purchased stock photography (existing scenic images of Maine.) FWIW, the Cutler campaign has been a wonderful client to work with, giving very clear instructions, following recommendations and and paying promptly.

I will also mention that at least one occasion I delivered my photographs to a Portland area ad agency, so that's more local involvement.

I will also mention that some ad agencies have carved out a niche in political advertisement and these agencies tend to be located in DC. I did work four years ago for a collection of Maine Senate candidates and that work was done by an ad agency that travels all over the country doing a very narrow class of political advertisement for one party. I'm not sure that there is a firm in Maine with that particular specialty.

Cameron Bonsey said...


Unfortunately people will focus on what the Cutler campaign spent. I couldn't get numbers for the Mitchell campaign.

I'm not trying to make this a political party issue I really just want to make it an awareness issue.

Joe Martin said...

It wouild be interesting to know where the representative races going to Washington buy there commercials from? It would seem there would be a lot more money in those campaigns.