I am completely kidding about that title. Unless you have been on a retreat for the past few months or on a media cleanse ( i love that, that is a thing. People stop all technology consumption to cleanse) you have seen political ads, and heard political ads.
If you live in New England you have seen a ton of primary ads, especially on television. Why is this? New Hampshire is an important primary state, so we are seeing all candidates trying to win votes for the primary. These ads are candidate focused, both positive and negative.
During the political window of time which is 45 days prior to the primary and 60 days prior to the general election, media outlets must provide the lowest rate on their station to candidates wanting to advertising. Bottom line, those stations aren’t making as much money on those ads as you may think, but they do ok-not to worry.
The Communications Act requires licensees of commercial stations to provide federal candidates with “reasonable access” to a broadcast station. So, stations may not turn away candidates running for federal offices (President, Senate, House of Representatives) and must provide them with some access in all dayparts. Stations may decline to carry ads for local and state races (e.g., city council or county clerk) because candidates for those races have no statutory right to reasonable access. Access for significant non-federal races (e.g., governor) should be considered under the general public interest standard, however. Bottom line, a station can’t deny federal advertising, stations are regulated by the FCC ( federal communications commission )after all. But stations can elect not to take smaller races.
Generally, whenever there is a candidate on a station, the appearance creates an equal opportunity for the candidate’s opponent to “use” the station for the same amount of time to reach a similarly sized audience. For example, a candidate’s appearance as a host or an anchor of a news program would be considered a “use” and any legally-qualified opponent of the candidate may assert an equal opportunity right to appear on the station. Bottom line, everything needs to be “even Steven”.
Beyond a natural curiosity about how some of the political advertising works, why do you care? If you are a small to medium size business owner looking to adverting you need to be careful how you spend your money. Over time, there is some listener and viewer fatigue. People begin to zone out on the political ads. You don’t want your valuable message to get lumped into those commercials.
Here are some suggestions on how to smartly spend your money to avoid the Political Landmines.
If you like to use television, you may want to stay away from local broadcast channels during those windows unless you have a large budget. Instead, try local cable and utilize non news channels. While all channels on broadcast and cable networks will be targeted-to reach the most amount of households possible, there seems to be an abundance of political marketing on what I would call more “serious channels”, and channels targeting older voting adults.
Local radio is always a good resource for your marketing dollars. When trying to avoid the political wave, advertise on music radio stations vs talk or news stations for the same reasons listed above for television.
Depending on your business, perhaps local or regional magazine’s would be a good option during this time of year. Magazines are typically not a political candidates top choice, the creative can be difficult to change on the fly. However, for your business a fresh glossy photo spread might bring in new customers.
To be clear I am not advising you to stop advertising during the political times. I am merely offering some suggestions and things to think about, I want you to feel good about where you are spending your money. Advertising works, all advertising mediums work, all it takes is the right message reaching the right audience. I hope this was helpful- don’t forget to vote!