April 16, 2020

The New Media Firm was honored to partner with our friends in the progressive and labor movements to run an aggressive and innovative campaign to help Jill Karofsky win the critical race for Wisconsin Supreme Court. This race matters, not only because we helped unseat right-wing, Donald Trump-endorsed incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, but because as we all know, Wisconsin will be a battleground for the presidential race in 2020.

It’s been called “Democrats’ Improbable Victory” — and for good reason. Despite enormous spending by the opposition, last minute shenanigans by the right-wing courts in-state and at the federal level, and a global pandemic, working closely with our partners at A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund, we prevailed.

Our program was firmly grounded in the idea that business as usual would not lead us to victory. We did not know at the outset of the campaign how true that would be.

We researched and tested messaging to help us determine the best creative to run for different segments of voters. Throughout the month-long paid media program, we ran countless pieces creative on digital and television, and on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, through our programmatic advertising networks, as well as as significant investment on streaming services like Hulu and Roku.

The creative used messages attacking Daniel Kelly’s extreme record, delivering partisan cues about Karofsky, touting Karofsky’s independence, her commitment to protecting civil rights for all and her judicial independence.

We also produced a series of grassroots videos using teachers and nurses and to deliver messages attacking Daniel Kelly’s extreme positions on guns, reproductive rights, and to link Kelly with Betsy DeVos and their shared views on education issues. As more resources came to the effort, we were able to expand our program to add television in key markets across the state.  One of our spots featured Patti Seger, a domestic violence victims advocate providing a trusted voice about Jill Karofsky’s commitment to protecting crime victims that pushed back on the false ads coming from Kelly’s allies.

We were also faced with the first major election during the coronavirus pandemic and knew we had to turn out people to out to vote – not solely at polling locations, but by absentee ballots.  From the start we ran aggressive advertising to base Democratic voters calling on them to request an absentee ballot and directing them to the state election commission. We followed those who clicked through with multiple absentee chase digital ads tailored to their community, some featuring Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore who we recorded via Zoom.

We knew it wouldn’t be easy to win this race, but our commitment to run a digital first campaign and to use new tactics and strategies was a combination that served us well — and helped us unseat an incumbent Wisconsin state Supreme Court Justice for only the second time in half a century.