TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bob Moon: Tune into the Olympics on NBC a little over a month from now and you could be watching a competitive event you didn’t count on: the race for the White House.
Ad Age reports Barack Obama has been talking to the network about buying ad time during the Summer Games from Beijing.
Joining us from Washington, D.C., now is Ad Age reporter Ira Teinowitz. He’s been tracking a potentially significant shift in advertising strategies this election year and today he writes about a youthful new player in the political arena.
Hmm. Ira, who might that be?
Ira Teinowitz: MTV is willing now to take advertising. They have never taken advertising from political candidates since they started and they are now willing to accept it. The expectation is that it’s being done so that they can accept advertising from the Obama campaign, which probably will have some money to spend this year.
Moon: So this is truly a national campaign as opposed to past campaigns?
Teinowitz: Well, it’s still to be determined for sure what’s going to happen, but yes, that’s probably going to be the case. The Bush campaign bought a little bit of cable advertising on specialty channels, especially sports channels, but they didn’t spend much on it. This time, Barack Obama may have enough money to spend money on major buys for at least some of the cable networks and maybe some national advertising.
Moon: And I take it that it’s Obama’s decision not to accept these public funds that has really caused this to happen?
Teinowitz: That’s part of it. The other part of it is there’s a lot more states in play this time. As you get more states in play and the economics change and you have the possibility that instead of buying the individual state by state stations and broadcasters what you can do is you can buy nationally cheaper.
Moon: When you talk about MTV changing its policy to accept these ads, could that significantly alter the outcome of the election?
Teinowitz: It could help in terms of raising the youth vote. The traditional problem in the youth vote has been that youth decide they’re for a candidate and then don’t show up at the polls. One of the key issues is getting out the vote and getting people to the polls. If you are suddenly able to advertise in a location which they’re watching and you can specifically pitch to them, it could be significant.
Moon: Any idea what caused MTV to change its position? Was it dollar signs or something else?
Teinowitz: Well, I asked them that question and they wouldn’t say for sure except that they thought the youth vote was important this time around and they wanted to be a part of it. I suspect that this is not exactly the best time for broadcasters and cable companies in the economy and that the economy had something to do with it, the possibility of additional dollars may have had something to do with it, but they won’t say that.
Moon: The fact that Obama can do this because of the way that this funding works, does that give him the edge here?
Teinowitz: Well, that’s again still to be determined. This is the first year that this is going to happen. There is some indication that the GOP is going to raise enough money to help McCain that maybe the national Republican party can go ahead and come in and do things. The question becomes what you do with the money. If you can significantly affect the turnout, if you can significantly affect the issues, if you can significantly affect swing voters, it’s important. If all it does is give you people you already have then it’s not going to be as important. The question becomes do you reach additional people or do you get people who wouldn’t otherwise come out to come out and vote.
Moon: Ira Teinowitz is a reporter for Ad Age. Thank you for joining us.
Teinowitz: My pleasure.