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And Now, Here Are The Stars Of America’s Game, Pat Sajak & Vanna White!

And Now, Here Are The Stars Of America’s Game, Pat Sajak & Vanna White!

Attention jewelers: steer clear of Wheel of Fortune until mid-November.

Everyone knows by now that political advertising is going to dominate the airwaves for most of 2016. Turn on the television or radio, open the pages of your favorite newspaper, visit your favorite website – you’ll most likely hear or see a local, state or national political ad within a few minutes. The media pros here at Fruchtman have been warning our clients since last year that the political ad tsunami of money is imminent; we’ve structured our media schedules to minimize our clients “being bumped” (having their ads not run due to other advertisers getting priority, whether due to law or due to them being willing to pay much higher rates).  In some cases we’ve recommended our clients stay off broadcast media in September & October all together.

As the primaries have begun, what’s been particularly interesting for a media geek like me to watch is where political folk are spending their money and to what end. Perusing the trades last week, I saw several headlines about how political money is flowing into Wheel of Fortune in a big way. Since I have the pleasure of writing an article for this week’s Fruchtman T3, I thought I would share what I found as I find it fascinating.

From the start of this year through March 1, more than 13,600 political ads have run during Wheel of Fortune. According to Kantar Media’s CMAG (Campaign Media Analysis Group), of the seven minutes and eight seconds of ads that ran during Wheel in Des Moines the Friday before the Iowa caucuses, six minutes of the ads were political. Amazingly, Bloomberg reports that through March 1 Wheel of Fortune has raked in $17.8 million in political advertising; that’s seven times more to this point than during the 2012 election cycle. Granted much of Wheel’s $57 million in 2012 political ad dollars came in the final weeks leading up to the election, but Wheel is clearly on a path to dwarf its 2012 $57 million in political dollars.

Super PACs and politicians are in love with Wheel of Fortune because of the demographic profile of its viewer – the average Wheel viewer is 50 years old and 70% of its viewers say they always vote. Wheel is also family-friendly, offering a non-controversial sandbox for politicians. Last year, according to Nielsen, an average of 29 million viewers turned on Wheel of Fortune each week. With the program being so attractive for political, and with political having piles of money to spend, the price tag for a: 30 Wheel spot continues to climb in election cycles. To give you an example, during the 2014 Senate race in Arkansas the local ABC affiliate in Little Rock was able to bump its Wheel rate from $1,250 per spot to $50k per spot. Think a local retailer’s commercial is going to make it into rotation during these times at $500 to $1,000 per spot? Not happening.

Borrell Associates (media analysts) projects political advertising to hit a historical $11.4 billion this year, more than 20% higher than the previous election cycle. With the Republican National Convention not being until July and with an open convention very much a possibility, political ad spending on the Republican side of the aisle is expected to stay high for months to come. Likewise, on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders continues to battle with Hillary Clinton state to state for delegates, which translates to high ad spends for at least another month or two. Political spending is high, and is going to stay high.

Still adamant that you’re going to push forward with your 2nd and 3rd quarter TV buys? Other programs that have shown to net large sums of political cash in the past (and thus are potentially programs for local advertisers to steer clear of for the time being) are The Today Show & Jeopardy. Both have shown they can take in Wheel levels of cash; The Today Show took in $54 million in ad dollars in 2012, and Jeopardy took in $50 million. As long as you buy smart and expect bumps, you’ll be OK. Remember too that political season is a nightmare for your local TV reps. If you work together, and buy strategically, you can still have a television presence this spring and summer.

Want to know more about media buying, TV advertising or marketing in general? Contact us at suits@fruchtman.com; we’re always up for a chat!

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