Mike Feuer bets on million dollar ‘underdog’ ad

How does a candidate 2% vote six weeks before a mayoral primary in the nation’s second-largest city draws attention?

For City Atty. Mike Feuer – a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles who struggled to gain traction despite enter the race more than a year ahead of other major competitors – the answer seems to come in the form of a dachshund named Martin.

In a new ad released on Monday, Feuer drives around town with the dog as the word “outsider” rings out in the background. The 30-second spot touts Feuer’s political accomplishments, including his work to extract an $185 million settlement from Wells Fargo after the bank created up to 2.1 million unauthorized customer accounts.

Until now, local television has been dominated by a single candidate: billionaire developer Rick Caruso, who invested $16 million in his campaign and made his message ubiquitous on local airwaves. A recent poll showed him and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) in a deadlock for the top spot in the race, with 40 percent undecided.

Feuer and his team are betting big on the underdog message — they’ve placed an estimated $1 million TV and digital ad buy over the next two weeks, according to a screenshot of the buy shared with the Times.

Meanwhile, a candidate slightly behind Feuer in the polls revealed on Monday that he had invested an additional $2.5 million in his own mayoral bid.

Businessman Ramit Varma, who has come forward to bring a data-driven approach to City Hall, called TV advertising a “very ineffective” way to reach voters. He plans to direct his money to billboards, digital advertising and radio spots.

Varma, an Encino resident, said he has now invested $4 million of his own funds in his campaign. He described Bass and Caruso, not Feuer or the others, as his true competitors.

“I want people to know that there is a third option – a businessman who is not a disconnected billionaire, a person of color who is not a police defunding progressive,” he said. -he declares. .

This latest comment is partly a dig at Bass, who has repeatedly said she doesn’t support defunding the police – and called it ‘probably one of the worst slogans of all time’ in June 2020. She called for the hiring of hundreds of additional police officers. officers.

An independent spending committee backing Bass’s bid for mayor released a digital ad earlier this month. Committee chairman Morgan Miller said the ad would also air on television ahead of the primary.

Representatives for two other candidates — Councilman Joe Buscaino and Councilman Kevin de León — said their campaigns plan to air television ads ahead of the primary.

Feuer’s ad was created by Putnam Partners, the same company that created a three-minute campaign video last year told from the perspective of the city attorney’s mustache. (Actor Jason Alexander provided a voiceover as Feuer’s facial hair in this 2021 video.)

According to the campaign, “underdog” advertising appears on television and cable channels, social media and digital ads.

It’s a major gamble for the struggling Feuer campaign: According to Feuer strategist John Shallman, the $1 million sum is “pretty close” to all the campaign currently has in the bank, although Shallman says that they are still waiting for matching funds and have “delayed” fundraising events in May to replenish their coffers.

“We’re confident we can stay on the air” beyond the initial two-week purchase, Shallman said. “We thought it was very important to get up now, two weeks before voters start receiving ballots.”

Martin, the publicity dog, is a professional actor. Feuer previously said he never had a pet.

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