Berwick set to air first TV ad

If only Don Berwick had more than 30 seconds.

In the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful’s first television ad, set to begin airing Tuesday, Berwick tries to fit a big chunk of his biography into a small amount of time — and create a contrast with his two party rivals too.

“Don Berwick,” a male narrator says as the spot begins, over a montage of black-and-white images. “A pediatrician and entrepreneur, Don Berwick founded the world’s largest nonprofit for health care innovation.”


Over hopeful music, the narrator continues, speaking at a quicker pace than most political ads, which usually put a premium on clearly conveying a single message. He says Berwick mobilized almost every hospital in the country to “stamp out medical errors,” saving 100,000 lives.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The narrator quotes US News & World Report lauding his leadership abilities. And then comes the not-very-indirect knock at Treasurer Steven Grossman and Attorney General Martha Coakley, Berwick’s two rivals.

The narrator says if “you’re tired of career politicians only interested in winning elections, there’s a better choice: Don Berwick.”

The ad does not mention that Berwick served, under President Obama, as the head of the country’s massive Medicare and Medicaid programs for almost a year and a half.

In the late 1980s, Berwick was a founder of the influential Institute for Healthcare Improvement, an organization based on reducing medical errors and waste. He subsequently led the group.


Berwick’s spokesman, Leigh Appleby, said he did not know how much money the campaign was spending to air the ad but that it would air just on Boston-area broadcast television.

Berwick told a reporter on Sunday he thought the ad would help rocket him out of third place in the contest, where polls have found him mired for months.

The most recent Boston Globe poll of likely Democratic primary voters, released last week, showed 10 percent backing Berwick, 21 percent backing Grossman and 45 percent backing Coakley.

The state primary is Sept. 9.

Joshua Miller can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.