Advertising in an Election Season, the Easy Way

Sailing Through the Election Season

It’s tougher for brands to get attention during election season. Commercial ad slots are harder to come by, and pricing increases. But that isn’t the only impact to your brand that can occur from political advertisements. Let’s take an in-depth look.

The Best Ad Slots During Election Season

As political campaigns take precedence, the advertising landscape changes—albeit temporarily. Finding the right opportunity to showcase your brand message amidst the chaos can be challenging. But it can be done.

The best ad slots during election season aren’t adjacent to political ads. This statement may seem blunt, but it’s true. It matters for three main reasons:

  • Negative effects of adjacent political ads
  • Increased time slot competition
  • Reduction in package rates

Research from J. Walter Thompson and Forethought shows that brand ads displayed adjacent to political ads incur a brutal blow to brand reputation. It doesn’t matter which party or the type of political ad, whether informative or derogatory, all political ads illicit negative responses from listeners or viewers.

This study also revealed that when a brand ad ran after a political ad, it was perceived as 32% less relevant, 29% less entertaining and 27% less appealing. The impact didn’t cease there. Consumers also rated the brand’s reputation, product quality, and value lower as a result of the adjacent placement to a political message. Worse still was the 26% decline in current customers’ purchase intent.

That’s a serious deterrent for your marketing budget. Why would you subject your ad campaign to that impact unnecessarily?

Commercial Broadcasting is Different

Increased competition for both prime-time slots and a reduction in package rates ensure that commercial airtime is a hot commodity during election season. But the reasons why this is the standard may be unknown to you. Let’s break it down.

Most people are unaware that three provisions govern candidate spending during campaign season. There is no getting around it in commercial radio. You either work with it or opt-out entirely. The trifecta of requirements is as follows:

Lowest Unit Rate (LUR) 

By law, there is a window of time when federal and statewide government candidates in the Primary or General Election, are entitled to the lowest unit rate for the class and amount of time they wish to purchase. This includes:

  • 45 days prior to the primary election and
  • 60 days prior to the general election

To determine their lowest unit rate, commercial stations review every package, promotion and contract that will air during these windows.

The commercial stations then:

  • Eliminate packages
  • Eliminate bonus spots and
  • Eliminate or limit promotions

Reasonable Access

Commercial stations cannot turn away candidates running for Federal Office and must sell ‘reasonable’ amounts of time in all dayparts. Dayparting is the practice of dividing the broadcast day into several parts, in which a different type of programming, deemed appropriate for that time period, is aired. 

Equal Opportunities

Commercial stations must treat candidates in the same political race in the same manner. Whatever time slot and rate one candidate obtains must also be offered to the opposing candidate(s).

The increased demand for time slots can prevent non-political advertisers from acquiring airtime, particularly during preferred or peak times. Finding less competitive options with guaranteed pricing equates to marketers struggling to find reasonable and accessible ad slots.

Issues advertising, funded by PACs (Political Action Committees) and Super PACs add even tougher terrain to airtime options. Since they are not subject to LUR, typically commercial stations sell inventory at the highest unit rate to them to offset the lowest unit rate phenomenon.

This can leave the average marketer feeling like they're in a desolate wasteland for airtime. The good news is that there is another option for your latest ad campaign.

The Advantages of Public Radio

Many marketers gear their campaigns towards commercial radio. But well-seasoned advertising pros already know that the benefits of public radio are vast. There are three key benefits relating to election season when considering this option.

•    No political ads—ever
•    No political provisions requirements
•    Audience of action-takers

While public media provides political coverage, it cannot run political ads due to FCC regulations. As a result, your brand message never has to lose rank or respect due to someone’s political views. 

Secondly, there are no political provisions requirements. Thus, you won’t have to fight for a premier time slot or endure increased pricing during campaign season.

Finally, the public radio audience is full of decision-makers and action-takers who are 72% more likely to purchase from or use your services. Sound more comfortable?

Source: Kantar, NPR State of Sponsorship Survey, March 2022

The Benefits Are Year-round

Porter Novelli’s 2022 Reputation Report also showed significant correlations between a company’s “Purpose score” and consumers’ spending behavior and attitude towards that company. This definition of Purpose in this report includes genuine efforts to address social and environmental issues. 

•    71% correlation between Purpose and consumer willingness to try new products 
•    71% correlation between Purpose and consumer willingness to switch to a Purpose-led company’s products 
•    68% correlation between Purpose and consumer willingness to forgive a company for its missteps

The bottom line is that consumers expect organizations, big or small, to take a stand socially. When they don't, it communicates to the public that the company is more about the bottom line than being a pillar of society. This may lead to a distrust that can grossly affect profits.

One thing is certain, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is here to stay and growing stronger every day. If organizations want to be successful long-term, facilitating corporate social responsibility must be a part of their business plan. And using marketing to educate the public about your efforts is just one part of the process.

Public media is an ideal outlet for CSR marketing campaigns. The audience is made up of civic-minded, socially responsible individuals who respect corporate sponsorship. 

NPR listeners are:

•    76% more likely to trust sponsorship organizations
•    72% more likely to be loyal to that company
•    78% are more likely to remember a company with a strong purpose
•    71% claim they will purchase from a purpose-driven company rather than an alternative

Contact us today if you would like to learn more about promoting your CSR campaign to a socially conscious audience. We are also here to guide you through any possible marketing campaign that can ensure future success including recruiting, brand awareness and events. We're happy to have the election season bring you to us and our audience inspire you to remain.

Let’s Work Together

Whether you’re interested in sponsoring one of our public media stations or learning more about turnkey sponsorship representation for your station, we can help. Complete the form, and we’ll be in touch soon.

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