Boston mayoral candidate Daniel F. Conley, leveraging his significant fund-raising advantage over 11 opponents, will launch the first television advertising campaign of the race Tuesday, part of a sustained blitz that will continue through the Sept. 24 preliminary election.
Conley’s campaign has paid for five ads, at least four of which will begin running Tuesday on local and cable television stations. The Conley campaign declined to say how much it is spending on the ad campaign, making it difficult to determine the frequency and prominence of the ads.
The Suffolk district attorney’s ads will be quickly followed Thursday by a commercial buy from Felix G. Arroyo. The first ad from the Latino city councilor will be in Spanish and will air only on Spanish-language media.
Conley’s ads make little mention of his role as Suffolk district attorney, the job he has held since 2002. Instead, Conley, speaking deliberately into the camera with a slight smile, tells viewers he will keep Boston moving forward with “fresh, new ideas” that focus on job creation.
“It starts by strengthening our schools so our kids have the skills to compete with anyone in any state and around the world,” he says, as images play of Conley leaning benevolently over children at play, or dressed up in a hockey jersey talking to young boys suited up for the ice.
A person with knowledge of the ad purchase said that the spots are slated to play on cable networks such as Bravo, Hallmark, and Oxygen, which target women, and Spike, NESN, and ESPN, which focus on male viewers. Two ads run for 30 seconds, and the others last 15 seconds.
The idea is to focus on issues such as education, not Conley’s biography, said his campaign spokesman, Mike Sherry.
“He’s proud of it, but we don’t want it to be the single focus of the campaign, because he’s more than that,” Sherry said, referring to Conley’s job as the county’s top prosecutor. “We wanted to jump straight into issues and get that conversation started.”
The ads were produced by Joe Slade White and Co., a media strategy firm that has worked on campaigns with other Democrats, including Joe Biden when he was running for reelection to the US Senate from Delaware. Conley’s campaign has paid the company $23,000 for its work, according to campaign expenditures filed with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance.
Conley has $1.26 million in his campaign coffers, far more than any other mayoral candidate. The candidate with the second-highest amount, Councilor at Large John Connolly, has about half as much, $664,002. Connolly, who has made education reform the central issue of his campaign, declined to say through a spokesman when he will launch television ads.
“When the time is right, we will talk to voters by television, but right now we have hundreds of volunteers talking to thousands of voters face-to-face each day,” said the spokesman, Adam Webster.
Campaign officials for Arroyo, another city councilor, said they will be running a 30-second ad for four weeks on the Spanish-language networks, Telemundo and Univision. Unlike Conley’s slickly produced ad, Arroyo’s commercial looks more modest, with the candidate staring into the camera as he describes his background and his family’s roots in Boston. He ends with the phrase “pa’lante con Felix,” Spanish for “forward with Felix.”
It will begin airing Thursday morning. “The purpose of this early advertisement is to build support from the Latino community,” said Doug Rubin, Arroyo’s senior campaign adviser. “We are running a grass-roots campaign and want people to be engaged.”
He declined to say how much the campaign spent on the ad. Other campaigns were circumspect about their plans.
“Giving away our media strategy now would be like the Red Sox showing the world their sign for stealing,” said Kevin Franck, spokesman for Councilor Rob Consalvo, who has raised $209,000, according to the most recent filings with the Office of Campaign & Political Finance.
Candidates with less money are concentrating on less expensive media. Bill Walczak, who founded the Codman Square Health Center and has $128,000 in his coffers, said through a spokeswoman that radio will be the first medium for his campaign’s message.
It is unclear what impact television ads will have during the summer when many people are vacationing and probably tuning out the mayoral race, political analysts said.
“This election strikes me as a retail election,” said Steve Poftak, executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
“The people who are out there with the best ground game will do best.”
Matthew Patton, a spokesman for mayoral candidate John Barros, said the campaign will eventually run TV ads but for now is focusing on door-to-door canvassing.
“That’s where we believe this campaign will be won, in one-on-one conversations and not on on television,” he said.
Still, buying ads now could spur the candidates with more resources to spend earlier than they had planned, so they can keep up with Conley, Poftak said.
“It makes sense to use your strength in a way that creates a disadvantage for your opponents,” Poftak said.
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