President Obama's Media Consultant Speaks to Students in the School of Communication and Media

John Del Cecato is inaugural speaker for School's Colloquium Series

Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media presented John Del Cecato, partner and creative director at AKPD Message and Media, as the inaugural speaker for its Colloquium Speaker Series on January 29 at Memorial Auditorium.

Del Cecato spoke to a crowd of more than 100 students at the Tuesday night event, which was moderated by Christopher McKinley, assistant professor of Health Communication at Montclair State University.

Del Cecato was responsible for writing, directing and producing many of President Obama’s nationally broadcast television advertisements for the 2008 and 2012 campaigns – including several spots that were found to be the most effective of the presidential campaign. During his speech, Del Cecato presented the audience with a number of campaign advertisements that he helped create and discussed the process for building a communication strategy in a political campaign.

“Campaigns are impacted by a number of important factors: fundraising, message, electoral math, and the larger political context,” said Del Cecato. “But in my experience, races for executive office ultimately hinge on a candidate’s ability to connect with voters in an authentic way. Barack Obama’s character and judgment helped propel him to the presidency in 2008, and won him re-election in 2012. As an ad guy, my job was to figure out how to help communicate that.”

“We were really excited to have Mr. Del Cecato come to the University to address the students of the School of Communication and Media,” said Amanda Olsen, a senior at Montclair State University. “It was interesting to see the thought process behind developing political advertisements and how each ad helps to serve a specific message and strategy. I think a lot of students became more interested in this aspect of political communication now that he gave his presentation.”

Prior to joining AKPD in 2001, Del Cecato served as communications director for New York City mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer. He was the DCCC’s national spokesman in the 1999-2000 election, served as the Iowa Democratic Party communications director during Tom Vilsack’s (D-IA) historic 1998 gubernatorial campaign and as press secretary to U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) during the congressman’s first term. Del Cecato cut his political teeth as an intern to then-House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO), serving as part of the Gephardt team for seven years.

Del Cecato graduated with honors from Northwestern University, majoring in communications and political science. He has lectured on the political process at the University of Virginia, George Washington University, Columbia University, Hunter College and his alma mater NU. Del Cecato has appeared on FOX News, C-Span and CNN’s Inside Politics, and served as a weekly contributor to New York One’s consultants’ roundtable.

Del Cecato’s visit comes on the heels of recent notable events at Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media, including a Speaker Series kicked off with a presentation from Andrew Heyward, former president of CBS, and a 2012 post-Election Forum with Jonathan Alter, political columnist at Bloomberg, Robert George, editorial writer at the New York Post and Timothy O’Brien, executive editor of The Huffington Post.