Politics

Bloomberg tech company hires top ad executive as campaign continues its digital onslaught

Key Points
  • Hawkfish, the digital firm working for Mike Bloomberg's presidential campaign, has hired a top ad executive, as the billionaire's organization continues to churn out content.
  • The Bloomberg-founded firm hired Tim Castree, former North America CEO of WPP Group subsidiary GroupM, a global advertising juggernaut.
  • The development comes to light the day after Bloomberg was hammered by rivals including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in Bloomberg's debut on the Democratic primary debate stage.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg raises his hand to speak during the ninth Democratic 2020 U.S. Presidential candidates debate at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas Nevada, February 19, 2020.
Mike Blake | Reuters

The digital company working for Mike Bloomberg's presidential campaign has hired another executive from a premier advertising firm, as the billionaire former New York mayor's organization churns out waves of digital content to support his candidacy.

The company, Hawkfish, recently hired Tim Castree, former North America CEO of WPP Group subsidiary GroupM, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be named as these decisions have not been made public. GroupM's website boasts that the firm directs "more than $50 billion in annual advertising." Castree left in November.

Hawkfish was founded by Bloomberg himself and is dedicated to being his campaign's "primary digital agency."

The Bloomberg firm has created at least 400 different versions of Bloomberg-related content for his campaign's digital ads, these people added. The campaign is aiming to appeal to various voter demographics across the country with such an onslaught. So far this month, Bloomberg's digital ads have depicted him as a staunch advocate for gun control and a problem solver when he was mayor of New York.

When reached for comment, Castree did not deny he was hired by Hawkfish and referred questions about his role to a spokeswoman at the Bloomberg campaign. A campaign aide confirmed Castree has joined the company. While the spokeswoman didn't affirm how much content Hawkfish has created for Bloomberg, she said the firm has the ability to quickly assemble and change the message of ads, much like President Donald Trump's campaign.

The development comes to light the day after Bloomberg was hammered by rivals including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in Bloomberg's debut on the Democratic primary debate stage. The former New York mayor's performance earned him negative reviews and, at times, boos and groans from the crowd.

Yet, despite some predictions of doom for his candidacy, the Castree hire and the continued content production from Hawkfish show that Bloomberg is prepared to hang around the race even beyond Super Tuesday, March 3, which is the first time he will be on any ballots in the campaign. Almost a quarter of primary delegates are up for grabs on that day, including in states such as California and Texas.

Bloomberg, who has risen to third place in Real Clear Politics' national polling average, has invested more than $85 million in digital ads on both Facebook and Google. That is more than any other Democrat or Trump's campaign have spent in the presidential campaign, according to data collected by Acronym. He entered the race in late November, but his campaign spent more than $11 million on Hawkfish services that month. Moments after publication, the Bloomberg campaign announced they have invested $25 million to date into Hawkfish.

The campaign spent in total more than $220 million in January.

Castree joins a group of nearly 200 staffers, including senior tech and marketing executives, who have joined Hawkfish. Hawkfish's other leaders include longtime Facebook marketing chief Gary Briggs and former Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck. Elisha Wiesel, former co-chief information officer at Goldman Sachs, has also joined the Bloomberg firm.

NBC News recently reported that Hawkfish will continue to work for Democrats through the general election if Bloomberg fails to capture the nomination.

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