• Mark Putnam

Founding Partner

The founding partner of Putnam Partners, Mark has been a national media strategist and ad maker for over three decades. His work bridges the political and non-political worlds, serving as one of President Obama's lead ad makers as well as helping elect 11 governors, 10 U.S. senators and dozens of members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mark has also been a crisis communications expert 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’s work has been featured in lengthy profiles by the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, Politico, and many other publications. A New York Times profile called Mark a “leading image guru” with “a record of delivering high impact ads – both creative and unorthodox,” and a CNN profile called Mark “one of the go-to ad makers.”

A veteran of eight U.S. presidential campaigns, Mark was one of the lead media makers for President Barack Obama in both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. In all, Mark has been a lead strategist and created national television advertising for six presidential campaigns, served as chief speechwriter for two presidential campaigns and has been a lead strategist and ad maker on campaigns at every level in 48 states.

Mark has created 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.” Mark also produced advertising to help elect Doug Jones in the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate. And Mark’s advertising for breakout congressional candidate and Internet phenomenon Amy McGrath set the standard for viral political advertising in 2018 – earning millions of YouTube views and sparking dozens of national news stories. Mark’s firm also helped elect 16 new members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 – more wins than any other Democratic media firm.

Mark’s highest profile project was creating 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 – the longest running ad of the Obama campaign – 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 over 100 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.

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 and then gain seats in 2013.

Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Mark graduated from Brown University with a degree in Molecular Biology. Mark lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife, Grace, and is immensely proud of their three children – John, Christopher, and Abigail.

News Coverage

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

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

Katy Tur: 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

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

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

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

10 Iconic Presidential Campaign Ads That Changed Political Advertising
Ad Week, 7/31/2016 | Mark Joyella

North Dakota GOP staffer: Heitkamp ads 'much better'
Politico, 9/9/12 | Alexander Burns

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

Wolffe: Behind Obama's Must See-TV
Newsweek, 10/23/08 | Richard Wolffe