The 2016 Local Political Advertisement Buy

09.19.2016 Dan Glicksman

Cable TV is Affordable – and Could Be Your Secret Weapon



Until recent years, I didn’t know much about political advertising  outside of what I saw as a viewer… waiting to hear some outrageous claim like, “If the other candidate is elected, they will sneak into your home to steal any cute and lovable teddy bears left lying around at midnight and smile while doing it!” Teddy bear abuse aside, I always assumed that the candidate knew exactly what they were doing when it came to political advertising.  From the message, to the production of the advertisements/commercials, to the placement of the ads, I assumed the candidate was the expert on what works, and what doesn’t.  It turns out, I assumed too much…so now, I’ll take on a few preconceived notions, shedding some light on the truth as you ask yourself –


Should I buy cable television advertising for my political race?


Several years ago, a unique thing happened in a local political race in Florida. The losing candidate called my company and asked for cable TV advertising rates AFTER the election had passed. Turns out his competitor (who won) had bought some ads on cable TV just prior to Election Day. Unfortunately, the losing candidate hadn’t stopped to consider it as an option due to some preconceived notions such as:

  • Television advertising is too expensive / my political race is too small for television.
    • TRUTH: Two things are happening here, either 1) you assume it’s expensive because all you know is the cost of a 30 second Super Bowl ad or 2) you’ve only met with the local broadcast affiliates like ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX. Truth is, a 30 second ad on cable TV might only run you about as much as it costs to fill your entire car with gasoline… regular unleaded!
  • Television doesn’t fit my district boundaries.
    • TRUTH: Again, the local affiliate TV capabilities might be throwing you off here – with them you typically need to buy the entire city. Did you know that you may be able to buy smaller zones in your city that fit more closely to your voting district(s) on cable TV? Call your local cable media company and ask them for a zone map.
  • There are very specific types of people I need to target, and TV targets – well, everybody!
    • TRUTH: You can target everyone or a very specific group if you’d like. Is there a specific voter group like senior citizens or women or young men you’d like to target? You could do that more efficiently with a specific cable TV network like Lifetime, Food Network, Spike, ESPN or the History Channel. Or maybe you DO want to go broader with a cable TV news network like CNN or FOX News?  There are many affordable options available to help sway your voters in your direction.
  • Production of a TV ad? I can barely afford to design a sign to stake in the ground!
    • TRUTH: When you think of shooting a TV ad, images of a moving camera on a track, lighting and names such as dolly grips and best boys likely come to your mind. Realistically speaking, the production is more like some pictures, a voice over, a few hundred bucks and an ad that’s ready for TV and your candidate’s website!


It pays to explore the options that cable television might offer your political candidate, such as targeted geographic zones in a city and specific audiences on targeted networks and programming. Whether a small race or political proposition in a tight zone, or a race spanning much of the state, there are options worth considering on cable television for political advertising that may more effectively capture the target voters you are looking to gain the attention of.

So get those emotion evoking images of your 2016 candidate hugging cute cuddly teddy bears onto the networks and programs your likely voters and those you wish to influence are watching – cable TV… and avoid a concession speech-filled ending that would otherwise leave you saying “I should’ve bought cable like my competitor.”



About the Author

Dan Glicksman

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