FP1 is proud to have served as the media consultant and digital firm to Katie Britt’s successful campaign to win the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in Alabama. This election, which broke spending records in Alabama, had many unexpected twists and turns, and our television, radio and digital advertising helped Katie Britt navigate this turbulent environment and keep her image above water throughout the hotly contested campaign.
Katie Britt, the former President and CEO of the Alabama Business Council and Senator Richard Shelby’s former Chief of Staff, entered the race in May of 2021 as the underdog. In the campaign’s initial polling, she registered at only 4 percent. Congressman Mo Brooks from northern Alabama was the clear frontrunner and had the endorsement of President Trump and the Club for Growth, which would end up spending over $6 million on his behalf.
In mid-October, the Club for Growth released a poll showing Mo Brooks leading the field with 55 percent of the vote to Katie Britt’s 12 percent. Many political observers in Alabama were speculating that Brooks had a real opportunity to win the primary outright and avoid a runoff.
In November, Mike Durant, the pilot who was shot down in Somalia and whose story was featured in the movie “Black Hawk Down,” entered the race. Durant, who owns a defense contracting business in Huntsville, was a self-funded candidate who ended up spending $9 million on his campaign and had a super PAC funded by Silicon Valley millionaires that spent another $6 million on his behalf.
Facing two formidable opponents, Katie Britt needed a strong message and a well-executed advertising strategy to build a base of support and remain competitive in the race. FP1 developed a research-driven media strategy that correctly anticipated the attacks that would be thrown at Katie Britt, while laying out a positive message progression that displayed her rock-solid positions on conservative issues and her unwavering commitment to put America and Alabama first.
Britt’s opponents, especially Brooks and the Club for Growth, were aggressive in attacking her on TV as a RINO who was weak on illegal immigration and who had supported tax increases, most notably a 10-cent increase in Alabama’s gas tax.
To overcome these negative attacks, we set out early in the campaign to position Katie as a Christian conservative who would fight tirelessly to defend Alabama’s values. Our advertising was aimed at building a strong foundation of support among evangelical Christians, who represented nearly 80 percent of the primary electorate.
We ran ads touting Katie’s commitment to defending the unborn and the sanctity of life. We featured her speaking out against the left’s attempts to allow biological men to compete in women’s sports, and we filmed an ad talking about Katie’s faith in front of the church her great-grandparents founded in the Wiregrass.
To inoculate against the attacks that Katie was weak on illegal immigration, we filmed an ad in front of the border wall in McAllen, TX with Katie expressing her unwavering support for finishing President Trump’s wall, banning sanctuary cities and deporting criminal illegal immigrants. We also filmed an ad with a popular Alabama Sheriff who vouched for Katie’s commitment to fight for stronger borders and law and order.
Katie stressed throughout the campaign that she was running for the United States Senate to defend the American dream and to fight for her core beliefs in faith, family and freedom. We showcased her family and Alabama roots in several ads. One of the obstacles we had to overcome was skepticism that Katie wasn’t tough enough to be a United States Senator. As a woman with a youthful appearance, there were some overtly sexist sentiments in Alabama political circles that had to be managed effectively and with some nuance. We cut an ad featuring Katie and her husband Wesley to address this problem head on. Wesley, who is 6’8’’and weighs 320 pounds, was a former offensive tackle at the University of Alabama and for the New England Patriots. In this ad, Wesley talked about how he had butted heads with the toughest dudes in the SEC and the NFL, but the toughest person he knows is Katie Britt, who stands only 5’4.’’ This light-hearted ad resonated with voters in football-crazed Alabama and neutralized a vulnerability.
To help overcome the Club for Growth’s attacks that Katie had supported a gas tax increase while at the Alabama Business Council, we aggressively messaged on the inflation issue. We filmed an ad in a grocery store with the entire Britt family that focused on the negative impact Biden’s liberal policies were having on families, and how Katie was committed to expanding American energy production and cutting wasteful spending to bring down the cost of everything from gas to groceries. The ad, which showcased Katie, Wesley and their two kids, was a big hit with voters. We ran another family-oriented ad that had Katie talking about how the Biden Democrats were spending money like her kids treat Monopoly money, while declaring her support for a new law that required Congress to balance the budget or lose their paychecks.
By March, the race for Senate had taken an unexpected turn. Mo Brooks, who had come under attack from super PACs for his past negative statements against Donald Trump and his votes against military budgets, was bleeding support in the polls and had fallen into third place. Trump ended up withdrawing his endorsement of Brooks. Mike Durant, who had been flooding the airwaves with biographical ads touting his story as a war hero and who was being backed by a significant investment from a favorable super PAC, had surged into first place. With Katie Britt trailing by 10 points in an Emerson College poll, we needed to make a move against Durant. When video evidence surfaced of Durant giving a speech at the War College where he said that disarming the population in U.S. cities would be a good step toward law and order in America, we had our opening. We filmed a hard-hitting ad where Katie Britt contrasted Durant’s support for gun confiscation with her unwavering commitment to the Second Amendment.
We ran this ad in a mix with another spot that featured Katie shooting clays and touting her commitment to fight back against Joe Biden’s socialist agenda in Washington. These ads helped stall Durant’s momentum and catapulted Katie into the lead in the closing weeks before the first round of voting on May 24th.
In Alabama, conservative talk radio drives the political conversation. There are local hosts with popular shows in every major media market. To reach conservatives on this influential medium, we dedicated a significant portion of our media budget to radio advertising. Our six-month radio campaign featured Katie talking about a wide range of conservative issues from defending life to securing the border and fighting inflation. These ads were vitally important in building support among very conservative primary voters.
We closed out the primary campaign with Katie making a direct-to-camera closing argument and asking for the vote. This sincere and authentic spot highlighted Katie’s conservative bona fides and stood out in a cluttered media environment full of negative ads. On May 24, Katie Britt shocked the political establishment in Alabama by securing 45 percent of the vote and carrying 62 out of Alabama’s 67 counties.
Mo Brooks, who had the benefit of not being attacked for months after Trump withdrew his endorsement, ended up surpassing Mike Durant to finish second in the first round of voting. In the runoff, the Club for Growth ran ads on Brooks’ behalf that once again attacked Katie Britt for being weak on illegal immigration. We effectively counterpunched with another ad from a well-respected Alabama Sheriff. Mo Brooks was also falsely attacking Katie for wanting to give abortion pills to teenagers. The ridiculous attack dated back to when Katie was the President of the Student Government Association at the University of Alabama and involved a resolution to support abortion pills that Katie allegedly failed to veto, even though she had no such authority. We countered this ad by having Katie go directly to camera and restate her support for the right to life and how she had advocated for the confirmations of pro-life Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, while serving as Senator Shelby’s Chief of Staff. With Katie dominating the runoff polls, President Trump issued his endorsement with 10 days left until Election Day, effectively ending Mo Brooks’ campaign.
On June 21, Katie Britt won the runoff for the Republican nomination for United States Senate in a commanding fashion, carrying 66 out of Alabama’s 67 counties and defeating Mo Brooks by a margin of 63 to 37 percent. We’re honored to be on Katie’s team.
During this hard-fought campaign, Katie Britt simply outworked her opponents by barnstorming the state, connecting with voters one-on-one and building a strong grassroots team. Our advertising helped deliver Katie’s strong and positive conservative message to voters and kept her image upright. In our last poll before the runoff, Katie’s favorable rating was 65 percent, which was a significant achievement considering the millions of dollars of negative advertising that had been run against her.
Katie Britt will be a superstar in the United States Senate. She has the communications skills and policy credentials to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party and move the needle for the conservative cause.