A piece of history

Glendale-based AB Data Ltd. played a crucial role in Barack Obama’s historic election as the next president of the United States.

The company, which recently moved to the former Manpower Inc. headquarters, produced all of the direct mail pieces used in the Obama campaign.

"We have, for the last 20 years or so, been involved in campaigns of various sizes and scopes, but this one was particularly unique in that it was more exciting for everyone involved," said Chuck Pruitt one of three co-managing directors for AB Data.

AB Data has about 400 employees in Glendale and Washington, D.C. The company specializes in full-service direct marketing, class action administration and data service solutions.

Over a 22-month period, AB Data produced 55 to 60 individual mailings, identified more than 600,000 donors and helped raise around $90 million dollars for the Obama campaign, Pruitt said.

AB Data previously produced work for Obama’s Hope Fund for 18 months. When he decided to run for the presidency, he asked AB Data to become a part of that campaign.

"We realized from the beginning that it was going to be a bit of an improbable journey, he was not the favorite and he was not the candidate that people were predicting to become the nominee and certainly not the next president," Pruitt said. "But we had enormous regard for him and believed that he was the strongest and best choice to become president. So it was an easy decision to get involved from the beginning."

Part of AB Data’s goal over the 22 months was to accurately capture the message of the campaign, but also to time those messages with key moments during the campaign season.

The company sent out letters and posters signed by Obama; his wife, Michelle; his running mate Joe Biden; and noted Obama supporters. The messages coincided with key campaign events, including Super Tuesday, the Iowa Caucuses, the Democratic National Convention and the final days leading up to the election, Pruitt said.

AB Data used two broad categories of mailings. The first group included an appeal to individuals for first-time contributions. The second group, which subsequently grew, became one for long-term campaign supporters.

The main difference in this campaign compared with others the company had been a part of was Obama himself, Pruitt said.

"I think, this medium is a medium of words, and having a candidate like Barack Obama, that is as articulate, and as well-spoken as he is, is something we haven’t seen before," Pruitt said. "That made all the difference in the way this campaign was able to reach people."

Overall, the Obama campaign received donations from more then 3.5 million supporters from all different types of income levels and social strata – an unprecedented amount.

"I think the fact that so many people invested their time and money in their own way is going to change everything for campaigns in the future," he said. "We may not know for a few years what that change will do or what it means, but there is no doubt that the change will be significant."

Now that the campaign is over, it is business as usual for AB Data, which is settling into its new corporate headquarters. 

"We are just excited about living in a country with Barack Obama as president of the United States. That is sort of satisfaction and pride enough," Pruitt said. "We are definitely optimistic about the future both for the company as well as for the country."

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