Palisades Enters Political-Ad Arena

Last year, a record $1 billion was spent on political advertising. That’s business many of the giant media shops don’t pursue, but Palisades Media Group sees opportunity in the segment.

To do so, the Santa Monica, Calif., independent, which claims $325 million in billings, last week added veteran political buyer Jean Brooks, formerly vp/COO at Carat USA, Los Angeles. For Brooks, who cut her teeth on a 1976 fundraiser for presidential candidate Jerry Brown, the goal is to leverage Palisades’ entertainment credentials (it handles Miramax, Fox Searchlight and others) to win political business.

“Movie studios want changes every other minute, so we’re used to working on that kind of advertising landscape, which is very similar to the political ad landscape,” said Palisades president and CEO Roger Schaffner, who worked with Brooks at Carat predecessor ICG before launching his shop in 1996.

Brooks, a native Angeleno, was a single mother working temp jobs when she joined Brown’s campaign. Since then, she has worked on some 300 political races as a consultant and an executive for 19 years with Initiative Media and then Carat. “I wanted to be at a smaller operation that would allow a certain amount of flexibility,” she said about her move.

Most media shops do not have political specialists, said John Barnes, Carat Los Angeles managing director. “Jean is unique,” he said. “Not a lot of people know how to do political buying. Mostly, it’s small independents who put together a group of freelancers and then shut down after a campaign is over. … If I could find someone with the contacts, I’d do it again in a second.”

With Brooks, Palisades hopes to add more national accounts. Late last year, the shop triumphed in the $50 million Virgin Mobile media review [Adweek, Nov. 15].