Edwards Realigns Advertising Team

Posted February 26, 2004 at 5:03pm

Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has turned to media consultant Marius Penczner to oversee his advertising campaign in the days leading up to the Super Tuesday primaries, according to several knowledgeable Democratic sources.

Penczner replaces David Axelrod as the lead media consultant for the Senator’s presidential campaign, although Axelrod is still heavily involved in the strategic and media components of the effort.

“Marius has produced the recent ads, but they are products of a team effort,” said Edwards spokeswoman Kim Rubey. “David is a key member of that team.”

Penczner joined the Edwards operation in December, according to Rubey.

He currently has his own firm, which is known as Penczner Media. As recently as 2002 he was partnered with former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee senior strategist Jennifer Burton. The pair split in late 2003.

Penczner’s political client list includes then-President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election bid as well as Al Gore’s 2000 presidential effort. He served as ad director for that campaign.

He has also done work for the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard (D).

His corporate client list boasts Microsoft, Paas Egg Coloring and Pizza Hut, among others.

A biography on the firm’s Web site states says that Penczner directed the “first ever appearance” of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates in a commercial for the computer giant.

Penczner did not return a call seeking comment.

The news comes just five days before the all-important Super Tuesday primaries, when voters in 10 states will head to the polls.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) remains the prohibitive favorite for the nomination but Edwards has used his surprisingly strong second place finish in Wisconsin’s Feb. 17 primary to prolong the nomination fight.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) and Rev. Al Sharpton also remain in the Democratic field. All four candidates will square off in a debate tonight in Los Angeles.

Edwards is focusing his attention and resources on Georgia, New York and Ohio, three of the biggest delegate troves available Tuesday. He is currently advertising in all three states.

Penczner is the third media consultant Edwards has used in his brief political career.

When he was first elected to the Senate in 1998, Edwards used Bob Shrum as his lead media strategist.

Shrum decided last spring to sign on with Kerry’s presidential effort, leaving Edwards’ own bid for the nation’s top office without a media consultant.

Edwards quickly hired the Chicago-based Axelrod to craft his television ads. He has helped to elect Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) in recent years.