The team, which includes Underscore Marketing's Tom Hespos, Eric Porres, Denise SooHoo, and Jim Meskauskas and Interep Interactive COO John Durham, calls itself Pericles Consulting. Jonathan Trenn joins as an affiliate in Washington, DC. Pericles has been incorporated as a separate company and Underscore will continue to operate as before.
The goal is to offer politicians running for national, state, or major metropolitan offices and advocacy groups a broad range of interactive advertising and marketing services including, strategic consulting, media planning, buying, campaign execution, effectiveness measurement and optimization, Web site development, and email deployment, tracking and management.
"Although political candidates have used the Internet in some form since 1996, the recent recall election in California established the Web as a fundamental communications asset that will be an integral part of all future campaigns," says Durham. "The Pericles team includes some of the innovators who have been conceptualizing, planning, buying and launching online consumer campaigns since the Web emerged as a commercial medium in the mid 1990s. We now offer that talent and experience to communicate ideas, agenda's and platforms."
"This is essentially an untapped market," adds Meskauskas. "In a major election year anywhere between $1 billion and $3 billion is spent on campaigns, most of it in traditional media."
Porres claims political consulting is probably 5 years behind where consumer marketing is now, in terms of online advertising. "It's one of the last frontiers," he says. "If you look at how much of a $1 billion ad budget is spent on online marketing and advertising, the answer is not much. The bottom line is that consumer marketing experience shows that the Web is an effective advertising vehicle that needs to be exploited."
While the team has yet to work for a political candidate, Porres says its leverage comes from the group's combined experience in consumer marketing. "In the end it comes down to reaching an audience," he says.