The political climate is heating up in the U.S. as the Nov. 6 presidential election rapidly approaches. So as President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney tangle during the final two weeks of campaigning, we thought it would be interesting to see how the election race, and it’s pending outcome, might effect the marketing sector.
It turns out that marketing operations teams can be highly impacted during the months leading up to the election. The huge political media spend generated by the election, predicted to be as much as $10 billion for all of the 2012 U.S. elections, can cause upheaval for many brands.
This year $4 billion will be spent on TV and cable ads alone. Because political ads are deemed crucial, they are elevated to top priority in the broadcast sector, meaning that many brands get bumped from their preferred advertising positions on TV. That not only forces brands to have alternate channels ready to place their ads, but also creates more work operationally because of the additional spots that must be prepared. Everything from creative teams to scheduling and the proofing and production process can be impacted.
“People prepare for it,” says JT Hroncich, president of Capitol Media, a media buying agency based in Atlanta, Ga. “We’ve been telling our clients since the end of last year that if they are doing an annual campaign that they should be ready for [disruptions] during Q3 and Q4.”
Shifting media campaigns
The election often changes strategies around when to run ad programs. Hroncich says that he has seen some clients postpone media campaigns until after the election, for fear of being lost in the political ad blitz that occurs in the months leading up the election. Even worse, he says, are the occasions when brands decide to postpone campaigns at the last minute, which can lead to a major misuse of agency resources.
“Fortunately for us we hadn’t moved to the planning stage yet when our client postponed the campaign,” says Hroncich. “They moved it to Q1 before we began the planning process, but I’m sure there are agencies out there that have been involved in cases like that.”
Guaranteeing media frequency
Jim Price, the CEO at Empower Media Marketing, says that clients must have contingency plans in place for those times when their ad is bumped in favor of political ads. Retailers and brands that depend on a steady stream of gross rating points or impressions for key time periods can be particularly impacted by the political campaign activity.
“Around this time of year, they are going to get bumped because the political race becomes a priority,” says Price. “So we have to have contingency plans in place. Sometimes it means going to radio or the digital marketplace to make sure we get the frequency the client needs.”
But the shift almost always sends advertisers and agencies into a frenzied state to ensure that new creative is ready.
“Operationally, it does create more work for the agency,” says Price.