Team Blago is back on the air this week with another flight of ads. The buy started Wednesday, August 23rd and runs at least through Monday the 28th. In placement it appears much like the waves of ads they ran in April, May, and June before taking most of July and August off: heavy on news and public affairs with a few prime time spots thrown in for good measure. But these spots are 30 seconds long, and are not bookended. These also seemed intended to prod his positives upward, touting his role in the Amber Alert system, rather than just drive his opponents’ lower.
And there are a lot of them. He’s spending $400K in Chicago for this buy, and it’s only 6 days long – that’s $65K a day on TV spots. For our analysis of ad spending earlier this year, click to Don’t Touch that Dial.
Blago’s the biggest thing going in Chicago TV these days, at least as far as political ads, but while he’s alone on the air right now, he won’t be alone for long. The U.S. Chamber had spots up in support of Democratic Congresswoman Melissa Bean, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has bought time in October and November (presumably for both Bean and Duckworth, though the contracts don’t say). The National Republican Campaign Committee matched that buy, and those federal commitments are already approaching $8 million in the Chicago area. Melissa Bean has reserved time for her own campaign in October in addition to the DCCC buy on her behalf.
Already, about as much ad time has been reserved for the General Election as for the Primary Election, and most candidates for state office have yet to jump in. Stations we spoke with expect the Governor's campaign to extend their buy beyond next week.
A book to be published next month raises some interesting questions about all this ad spending. What Sticks is an analysis of several large commercial advertising accounts. It concludes that 37.3% of the $1 billion (with a “b”) spent by 36 of the nation’s biggest advertisers was wasted on campaigns that didn’t achieve what they set out to do.
The book looks at commercial advertising, and political ads are a very different animal. But political ads across the nation are likely to hit $1 billion this year, and Illinois could easily see a fall campaign season as busy as or busier than the Primary. Is it really all worth it?