Effective advertising during an election campaign is challenging but important | nnbw.com

Effective advertising during an election campaign is challenging but important

Marlene Olsen

Campaign season. The airwaves, the

newspapers and every corner are covered

with political messages. Our democratic

process is what makes the

United States different

from almost

every other country

in the world. If you

advertise regularly,

fall will be a challenging

time for you. But, you can navigate

through this season with some

finesse and get the most you can out of

your advertising dollar, with a little


Most media sources (television, radio

and newspapers) are reporting that they

are placing more space than in a normal

non-presidential campaign season. The

reason is that some of the issues that will

be in question format on the ballot, are

also using advertising, especially the marriage

and marijuana issues. It makes

sense that these races and questions create

the need for advertising essential, while

space and time are limited. The pricing

structure also changes during this period.

So, you not only have to consider competing

for time and space, but your unit

price goes up, too. Let me explain.

In order to inform the public and protect

freedom of speech for the candidates,

the media (television and radio) must

offer the lowest unit rate to all candidates

by law during the campaign season. All

existing advertising contracts and rates

during this time frame are reviewed six

weeks from the primary election. At that

time, the lowest unit cost is identified and

is valid for all political advertisers until

the general election in November. So, the

media has to be very careful in their pricing

for this time of year no deals for

anyone else, that’s for sure. Newspapers

offer political rates. Some would say that

these one-time advertisers get an unfair

advantage over the tried and true advertiser.

After all, there should be some

benefits for bigger annual advertising


As the political campaigns draw closer

and closer to Election Day, campaign

managers will grab all of the space they

can get, second-guessing the competition.

So, if you are advertising during this time,

and have preemptable rates, which are

priced lower, your radio and advertising

ads have a great chance of getting bumped

to a less desirable time of the day, or they

don’t run at all and your account gets credited

not a great thing if you’re having a

date-specific sale! Since newspapers and

magazines can grow with the amount of

advertising, your ad won’t get bumped, but

you may not like where it gets placed.

The following are just some of the tips

that will help you make the most of your

marketing and advertising dollars during

this political season:

* Wait, if you can. But, you’ll find a lot of

advertisers with the same idea. The second

and third week in November is

almost as booked over 90 percent

as October. So, is waiting until the end

of November sensible for you?

* Stay in there and advertise. But, make

sure you are buying fixed rates, so you

don’t get bumped. You’ll pay more, but

you’ll sleep at night.

* Don’t buy a lot, but buy strategically.

Buy specific programs, specific times, and

specific pages. It will cost you a premium

rate, of course, but your ads won’t get lost

in the sea of political advertising.

* Produce shorter spots for radio and television.

Some stations suggest this, as

they have specific times to run five-, 10-

and 15-second ads, and the political ads

are never this short.

* For television, buy prime time and entertainment

programming, as even the minor

campaigns will be buying the news.

After considering the points above, I’m

sure you’re getting the picture that this

next month can get complicated. Thank

your lucky stars if you have an advertising

agency, or agent. A good one will be

looking out for your interests.

Election Day will come soon enough

and we’ll all be happy when it’s over.

Don’t forget to vote. I call it the wind

under our country’s wings.

Marlene Olsen (marlene@o-apr.com) is

president of Olsen & Associates Public

Relations. She writes a monthly column on

public relations and advertising for NNBW.