John Del Cecato has worked at the highest levels of Democratic politics for two decades.
Since joining AKPD in 2001, Del Cecato has been at the center of the company’s creative work – offering his expertise in message development, speechwriting, earned media strategy, and television and radio ad production to candidates for federal, state, and municipal office. Since 2009, he’s continued that tradition alongside business partner Larry Grisolano.
At AKPD Message and Media, Del Cecato helped devise winning media and communications strategies for clients such as President Barack Obama, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (the first Democrat to be re-elected NYC Mayor in 32 years), Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx (who later served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation), Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther, and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran (the first woman to hold that post in Nassau County).
Del Cecato first encountered Barack Obama at a little-noticed speech the then-State Senator gave in 2002, opposing the war in Iraq. In 2004, he advised the candidate during the Senate Democratic primary, traveling with Obama throughout the state of Illinois. In 2008, Del Cecato worked closely with David Axelrod in the areas of communications strategy and message development for the Obama presidential campaign. Most notably, DelCecato was responsible for writing, directing, and producing many of Obama’s nationally broadcast television ads – including several spots that independent research found to be the most effective of the presidential campaign.
In 2012, he returned to the Obama campaign, creating many of the Obama re-election campaign’s TV and radio most memorable ads, including the acclaimed “Firms” spot, which featured Republican Mitt Romney singing “America the Beautiful.” In 2013, he developed the campaign message and television ads for New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, including the celebrated “Dante” spot, which featured de Blasio’s teenaged son. Time praised it as “the ad that won the New York Mayor’s race,” while the Washington Post named it as the “best ad of 2013.”
Del Cecato has also helped craft successful messages for organizations such as the AFL-CIO, the California Working Families Party, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) – the latter during successful campaign to retake the House majority in 2006. His award-winning commercials reflect a unique ad-making style, with rich biographical storytelling, compelling interviews, memorable graphical treatments, unique sound editing, and pitch-perfect response and comparative messaging.
Before his work at AKPD, 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, Tufts University, Hunter College, the University of Pennsylvania, ESADE Business and Law School (Madrid), and his alma mater NU. Before partnering with Axelrod and David Plouffe 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 cycle.
Del Cecato was Iowa Democratic Party communications director during Tom Vilsack’s (D-IA) historic 1998 gubernatorial campaign, and he served 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.