The primary reason for spreading advertising around

Once again, I find myself drawn to the US presidential primaries, watching with amazement as the US shows its determination to do things on a much larger scale than anywhere else. The battle to see who will take on Obama is simply staggering.

Whoever ends up being Obama’s Republican challenger will need to have a hefty war chest, as the whole US Presidential race is estimated to cost at least $6bn. That’s the equivalent of the GDP of Nicaragua, and during one of the worst global recessions ever witnessed, it could be considered just a little excessive.

Even now, obscene amounts of money are being spent on television advertising. Some reports have Mitt Romney down as spending $15m in just 10 days in order to flood Florida with 13,000 aggressive TV and cinema advertisement spots ahead of this week’s primary.

I can’t help questioning the strategies behind such “carpet bombing”. All the candidates are competing for air time, and such a huge concentration on one medium can only lead to advert fatigue from voters. Romney will probably win the nomination, but I am sure the millions he spent on TV advertising could have been spent in a much smarter way.

For a start, he could have spread the activity across different platforms. The Obama election campaign taught us the power of using digital media as well as traditional broadcast channels. By siding so heavily with TV, Romney looks dated by comparison.

For years we have been encouraging companies to think smarter when placing their ads – a point also made by our new ‘Bigger’, ‘Faster’ and ‘Smarter’ campaign.

FT’s research shows that using both print and online ad spots improves brand effectiveness by an average of 38%. With budgets tight, media owners have a duty to demonstrate how advertisers can steal a march on competitors and get the best return on their investments. In my experience, that usually means encouraging them to take their eggs out of the single basket and advertise across multiple platforms.

While Romney’s conservative approach to advertising may not matter when it comes to wooing Republicans, it certainly will if (or when) he takes his message to the wider US public.

  • Hope Kaye

    The obscene amounts of money come by way of the “super-PACS” – thanks to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling. The Republicans know the media habits of their base – hence the flooding of the airwaves with TV commercials.