• Mark Putnam

Founding Partner

The founding partner of Putnam Partners, Mark has been a national political media consultant and marketing strategist for over two decades. His work bridges the political and non-political worlds, serving as one of President Obama's lead media consultants, as well as helping elect 12 governors, 11 U.S. senators, dozens of members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mark has also been a lead consultant and ad maker for corporations and associations such as the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, California American Water, Pepco Holdings, Exelon Corporation, the Main Street Fairness Coalition, the National Academy of Sciences, 1199 SEIU, the League of Conservation Voters, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, and many others.

Mark is best known for creating some of the most talked-about political advertising campaigns of the last decade, including the “Background Checks” TV ad featuring U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander assembling an AR-15 assault weapon while blindfolded that Politico called “the most memorable ad of 2016.”

In 2016, despite the Donald Trump-driven Republican rout across much of the country, Mark’s work helped Attorney General Roy Cooper unseat Governor Pat McCrory in North Carolina — one of only two Republican governors unseated since 2007 and the first North Carolina governor ever defeated for re-election.

And in 2014, a disastrous year where only four Democratic candidates for governor won out of 14 “toss up” races, Mark produced the advertising for two of those winning campaigns — Governors John Hickenlooper in Colorado and Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island. That year, Mark also helped U.S. Senator Tom Udall win re-election in New Mexico, despite a strong challenge by a self-funding multimillionaire Tea Party candidate.

Mark also produced the advertising for Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s surprise 2012 win that The Washington Post called “one of the most amazing results on Election Day... Heitkamp’s huge over-performance was built on her quality as a candidate and the quality of her TV ads.”

Mark’s highest profile project was writing and producing Barack Obama’s 2008 election eve 30-minute television special that aired simultaneously on seven networks and was viewed by over 35 million people. The Washington Post television critic Tom Shales called it “somehow both poetic and practical, spiritual and sensible...a montage of montages, a series of seamlessly blended segments.”

In 2012, Mark continued his work on the Obama Media Team, creating many nationally aired television ads, including the “47 Percent” ad that the Los Angeles Times and Politico both called “the best” ad of the campaign. National Journal called it “haunting” and The Guardian said it was “the one that really packed the most devastating punch.”

Mark also wrote and produced the Michelle Obama biographical films “South Side Girl” and “Michelle” for the 2008 and 2012 Democratic conventions. “South Side Girl” was called “intimate” and “emotional” by Newsweek, and The New York Times called it “vivid.”

In his book, The Audacity to Win, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called Mark “one of the best producers in our party.”

Mark has had 12 ads named among the “Best Ads” of 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 by the Washington Post and has also won 95 Pollie Awards for excellence in political advertising. CBS News called his “Shower” ad for Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper the “best ad” of 2010, and Mark shared in the Obama for America campaign’s unprecedented two Grand Prix Awards at the 2009 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

In the corporate sphere, Mark has won three Marketer of the Year Awards from the American Marketing Association, the Thoth and Silver Anvil Awards from the Public Relations Society of America, five Telly Awards and a Silver Microphone Award for radio excellence.

In all, Mark has been a lead strategist and created national television advertising for five presidential campaigns, served as chief speechwriter for two presidential campaigns and has been a lead consultant on campaigns in 47 states.

Mark’s international work includes serving as a lead strategist and producing advertising for the Czechoslovakian political movement “Public Against Violence,” voter education media for Russian parliamentary elections and, most recently, helping Prime Minister Michael Eman and the AVP win control of the Aruban parliament in 2009 and then gain seats in 2013.

Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Mark graduated from Brown University with a degree in Molecular Biology. In 1986, he worked with Squier-Eskew-Knapp Communications, and then served as Deputy Southern Coordinator on the 1987 Biden for President campaign. From 1988 to 1996, Mark was the Creative Director and a lead strategist with the Washington, DC firm of Fenn-King-Murphy-Putnam Communications. In 1997, Mark co-founded Murphy Putnam Media, where he was a lead strategist and Creative Director through the 2010 elections. Mark founded Putnam Partners in 2011.

Mark lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife, Grace, and is immensely proud of their three children — John, Christopher, and Abigail.

Meet the Man Behind 2018’s Most Viral Campaign Ads
MSNBC, 10/30/2018 | Katy Tur

Midterm Campaign Ads Offer Personal Messages that go Deeper than the Issues
CBS News, 10/22/2018

Meet the Man Behind Some of 2018's Most Viral Campaign Videos
CNN, 08/03/2018 | Rebecca Berg

'A Little Errol Morris. And a Little Roger Ailes’
Politico, 07/08/2018 | Michael Kruse

Here are the top 5 ads of the 2016 election cycle
CBS News, 11/04/2016 | Reena Flores

Inside The Creation Of The Best Campaign Ad Of 2016
The Huffington Post, 08/02/2017 | Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis

Political Ad Man Finds the Personal in Democratic Hopefuls
The New York Times, 5/25/14 | Ashley Parker

The Producer
National Journal, 4/21/11 | Naureen Khan

The Obama Show
Newsweek, 10/23/08 | Richard Wolffe