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Political Spending as a Form of Advertising: Trends, Uses, Case Studies


“My Name is Eric Drumm and I Approve this Message”

The best brand you can promote is yourself.  There is very little guesswork about how you want to come across and what you want people to know about you. Nobody knows you better than you, right?  So when you are running for political office, it’s a smart idea to spend the money to make sure people know what you are about.

But how much are we talking here?  As it turns out, it’s a lot.

In 2010, political candidates spent an astonishing $4.2 billion on advertising.  This money went into print media, TV spots and more.  This is a massive increase compared to years previous.  In 2008, politicos dropped $2.1 billion, which is also of biblical proportions.  For that kind of scratch, you could buy every second of air time for about a century’s worth of Superbowls.

Why spend all this money?  The answer, apparently, is being on the offense.

A bulk of this money is going to creating ads that don’t show you as a candidate, but how much better you are than your opponent.  Name calling, mudslinging and presenting questionable facts about your adversary are standard practices.  So politicians are spending billions of dollars to cut each other down in a public arena.  Seems about right, I mean, this IS America after all.

Where are they regulatory bodies in this?  Who is watching how much money is going around?  Apparently the government is, and they support it.  In January of 2010, the United States high court approved a ruling that basically allowed candidates spend whatever they want.  Is their money, so why shouldn’t they sink it all into promoting themselves?  If that’s not an American idea, I don’t know what is.

Is there an upside to this?  Sure there is.  In 2010, it was expected that political ad spends would bring $250 million to the failing radio industry.  While TV still got the lion share, an industry like radio could use this comparative table scrap.  So if anything, even though some of these candidates will burn through this money and not win, someone is benefiting.

Overall, politicians are notorious for spending truckloads of money, especially on themselves.  As advertisers, it’s interesting to see how much money is actually on the table.  If you can make a guy like Donald Trump legit look like a good candidate through creative ads, you not only proved you have the chops as a great agency but you will also be paid handsomely for it.

And now, I leave you with this.

and this



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