The great thing about attack ads

The looming US presidential, senate and congressional elections will result in ocean-freighter loads of money being spent on media — some of it explaining positions on important issues, the majority of it inferring rival candidates make crystal meth for fun and sleep with farm animals.

What this means for our weird little space is that some of that money will be coming our way, as candidates at all levels try to get their good and not-so-nice messages out to the masses, some of whom aren’t big on conventional TV and other quaint old mediums like newspapers and radio.

Political campaign spending on advertising media and marketing services is expected to soar 43 percent to an all-time high of $4.5 billion in the 2008 election cycle, according to a just-released analysis from ad and marketing research firm PQ Media (as reported in AdWeek’s latino media online pages).

The Stamford, Conn.-based firm cited record fundraising, the high number of presidential candidates and “an acrimonious political environment” as key drivers of the projected spending splurge.

“A key trend driving growth is that this is the first election since 1928 without a current member of the executive branch running for office, which has resulted in an unusually high number of presidential candidates participating in the primary season, as well as a discordant political landscape on several fronts,” said Patrick Quinn, CEO of PQ Media.


Political ad spending across all media is projected to reach $3.03 billion, and account for 67.2 percent of all political media spending in the 2008 election cycle, according to the PQ study. Additional spending on political marketing services, including direct mail, public relations, and promotions and event marketing will reach $1.48 billion and account for the remaining 32.8 percent. The firm predicted that marketing would continue to gain share from advertising due to more sophisticated databases that allow direct mail strategies to be targeted to the unusually large number of battleground states in the 2008 elections.

PQ predicts that several advertising and marketing segments, such as cable TV and direct mail, will exhibit significant gains due to critical television station inventory trends, particularly in New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Florida.

That said, the firm stressed that broadcast TV would command the largest share of political media expenditures in 2008 with 51.3 percent of the total. But candidates will continue to shift budgets to other media strategies like public relations, promotions, event marketing and the Internet to reach key target demographics.

There is also a federal election looming in Canada, and while the attack ads up here would make the pit bulls who do that stuff down south slip into comas, they have become more prevalent and TV is widely used. The Liberal Party of Ontario, for instance, placed ads on some screen networks, including bars, during the recent provincial election.

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