Tom Hoch is the first candidate in the Minneapolis mayor’s race to air a TV ad, and he is taking a lighthearted — and expensive — approach to sharing his story.
The political ad debuts Wednesday morning and will run on numerous local and cable channels in June and July. It pokes fun at Hoch’s enthusiasm for the city.
The ad shows Hoch talking about Minneapolis and his work in the city while grilling and at a party, with a jogger and a woman trying to take out her recycling. Those scenes are intercut with messages from Hoch’s husband, Mark Addicks, who tells viewers, “All he thinks about is Minneapolis.” It ends with a comical plea from Addicks: “Please vote for Tom Hoch as mayor of Minneapolis … Please.”
It’s a spoof on the popular 2016 ad for Gerald Daugherty, who was running for re-election to the Travis County Commissioners Court in Texas.
“I think, in general, people have grown weary of political advertising, and they tune out, because it’s just so tedious,” Hoch said. “So my intention here was to do something that is uplifting and introduces me.”
He is attempting to stand out in a crowded mayor’s race. His competitors include Mayor Betsy Hodges, DFL state Rep. Ray Dehn, Council Member Jacob Frey, and lawyer and activist Nekima Levy-Pounds.
Hoch’s opponents noted his ad is airing early in the campaign.
“Tom’s a great guy and it’s a clever ad, but at 35 years old I don’t have the personal wealth to go on the air” this early in the election season, Frey said.
Hoch said he planned the ad to run during the Twin Cities Pride Festival, which takes place this weekend. If elected, Hoch would be Minneapolis’ first openly gay mayor.
“I want people to know me and I want them to know all about me. And this seemed like a great time to do that,” he said.
The ad highlights his experience, including founding the Hennepin Theatre Trust, and working as a Minneapolis public school teacher and deputy director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
The ad will be broadcast on morning and nightly news programs on NBC and CBS, as well as various local newscasts and cable channels. His campaign also bought late-night airtime, including during the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Federal Communications Commission filings show he paid $20,600 to run his ad 15 times on CBS and CBS-affiliated shows, like the WCCO morning news and Stephen Colbert’s program. Other networks filings were not available Tuesday.
Hoch said he raised the money to air the promotional piece, but hadn’t received the final invoice and could not give full cost.
The mix of channels is typical for a candidate who is trying to increase their name recognition as quickly as possible, said Bill Hillsman, president of Minneapolis-based North Woods Advertising.
“Television is necessary if you are going to boost name ID and move numbers in a relatively short period of time,” Hillsman said, and Hoch is up against more recognizable names, like Hodges. “He has to do something to get himself into the mix.”
TV ads can have a powerful effect on local elections, where turnout is generally low, said Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Voters who turn out for such races tend to be older than the average community member, Burden said, and are more likely to watch local news broadcasts, which campaign ads often target. Political ads for a city like Minneapolis are more efficient than ads in larger legislative districts, he said.
“Unlike other contests where the media market boundaries and the district do not overlap neatly, TV ads in a big city get more bang for the buck,” Burden said in an e-mail.
Hodges and Levy-Pounds did not respond to requests for comment.
Dehn said the limited geography of the race is a reason not to pay for TV advertising.
“We believe the race for Minneapolis mayor is going to be run meeting people face-to-face, talking about the issues,” Dehn said. “If I was running for office for the Seventh Congressional District or the Eighth Congressional District where the geography is immense, that might be different.”