Mark has created some of the most talked-about political advertising campaigns of the last decade. A 2014 New York Times profile of Mark wrote how “Democratic candidates are now turning to him for help in some of their most competitive races.” Another New York Times piece praised Mark’s ads as “among the best on the Democratic side” and for having “a painterly, cinematic feel.”
Mark’s most recent work includes 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.” His work for Heitkamp earned Mark the 2012 “Most Valuable Player Award” from the American Association of Political Consultants.
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. 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 nine ads named among the “Best Ads” of 2008, 2010 and 2012 by Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, and has also won 54 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 Lion International Advertising Festival.
In all, Putnam has been a lead strategist and created national television advertising for four presidential campaigns, served as chief speechwriter for a fifth presidential campaign, and has been a lead consultant on campaigns in 47 states.
Past and present clients include (partial listing): U.S. Senators Mark Begich (AK), Ben Cardin (MD), Bob Casey (PA) Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Tom Udall (NM). Governors John Hickenlooper (CO), Brian Schweitzer (MT), Phil Bredesen (TN), Brad Henry (OK), Ruth Ann Minner (DE), and Bill Richardson (NM). Attorneys General Kamala Harris (CA) and Roy Cooper (NC), Representatives Barney Frank (MA), Mark Critz (PA), Bill Owens (NY) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD), and Mayors Michael Hancock (Denver), Karl Dean (Nashville), Steven Fulop (Jersey City), Tom Menino (Boston), Bill Peduto (Pittsburgh) and Francis Slay (St. Louis).
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 helping Prime Minister Michael Eman and the AVP win control of the Aruban parliament in 2009. In 2013, Mark helped the AVP expand their majority in the Aruban parliament.
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 1988-1996, 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.