Election TV ads carry heavy weight for local candidates

Midterm elections are rapidly approaching, and political wars are raging in the form of TV ads and campaign fundraising all over the country for House, Senate, and gubernatorial seats.

Midterm elections are rapidly approaching, and political wars are raging in the form of TV ads and campaign fundraising all over the country for House, Senate, and gubernatorial seats.

According to Campaign Media Analysis Group, a division of TNS Media Intelligence Co., which recently released its report on political ad spend for 2006, pols are spending 150% more than in 2002, possibly in hopes of swaying the emotional vote.

According to BBC News, former VP Al Gore recently told a crowd at the Edinburgh TV Festival that "the average American watches television for four hours and 39 minutes a day," adding, "That's why candidates spend 80% of their money on advertising campaigns."

Why does it matter?

"Campaign advertising spending is qualitatively and quantitatively different than other marketing spending," says Chad McGinnis, SVP at Blue Worldwide. "A candidate running for office is going to have to have more weight behind his message than advertising for a consumer product."

McGinnis says the scope of the campaign plays a huge part in what effect advertising has on the outcome - meaning that paid advertising is not as important in a presidential race where candidates are getting a lot of news coverage and plays a bigger role in smaller congressional races. "If you are a local candidate, you can't rely as much on earned media," he adds. "The fundamental truth in campaigns is that you won't vote for somebody whose name you do not recognize."

Five facts:

1 From January 1 to August 13, 2006, $311 million was spent on local TV ads by candidates, political parties, and interest groups for House, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns.

2 Many candidates like Senatorial candidate Ned Lamont (D-CT) have taken to uploading their TV spots and exclusive videos to free video-sharing Web site YouTube, where young viewers are likely to see and comment on them.

3 An August 27 Wall Street Journal article reported that $200 million will be spent on cable advertising for political campaigns this year, indicative of a trend toward devoting more budget to mediums other than network television.

4 MoveOn.org continues to draw fire for its political advertising. Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) has voiced his disapproval of a recent MoveOn.org ad (above) that suggests Sweeney misused billions of dollars in Iraq.

5 Elaine Christoph, SVP at McCann Erickson WorldGroup's LCI, told Medialifemagazine.com that she expected political advertising television campaigns to be big in New Orleans this fall.

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