Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Have you seen the latest Obama ad? The latest McCain ad?

If you have, take note of where you saw it. It seems that it is increasingly unlikely you saw the ad during a commercial break.

According to the AP:

"Barack Obama's and John McCain's presidential campaigns are peddling campaign videos as advertising even though they are getting little commercial air time..."

There's a couple great quotes within reporter Jim Kuhnhenn's story from Evan Tracey (the head of a firm that tracks TV ads). Here's one:

"What you have now is that the campaigns say, 'Hey, (MSNBC's) Morning Joe is a food fight, let's supply the tomatoes."

I'm not entirely sure whether or not this is significant, but it is worth noting that a candidate gets more bang for their buck creating ads that cable news will run endlessly, even if a campaign never intends to buy advertising time... throw in youtube, and you wonder how many people it can reach for free.

As cable news stations continue to rely on commentators as ratings earners, to what extent does editorial control amount to free advertising? If Fox News runs a segment asking "Is this McCain ad fair?" and then concludes that the ad is fair, does it matter that the ad isn't appearing regularly on TV in any other forum? If MSNBC does the same with an Obama ad, does it trouble you more if the ad is discussed on their non-biased news coverage versus a program anchored by Keith Olberman? What if if the ad never ran during a commercial break of a regularly scheduled program?

Products get placed into movies all the time, so it is also worth noting exactly who has editorial power on cable news these days. Fox News has been accused of relaying partisan "talking points" to on-air talent or production staff... Michael Moore accused Sanjay Gupta of skewing the facts in a report on the documentary "Sicko" in order to appease the major sponsors of CNN's medical coverage. The selling of the news isn't exactly new, nor is using the news as entertainment (thanks Roone Alderidge), but to what extent do advertisers have control over what's on in between commercial breaks?

So, the next time you watch a campaign ad during a news program, perhaps it might be time to flick on over to a good old fashioned, honest, hardworking infomercial with American values.

No comments: