The struggle for election ad dollars: Parties target Latinos, publishers and media buyers hopeful
The first Spanish-language ad of the 2004 presidential campaign was a print ad. The Republican National Committee (RNC) ran the ad in the January/February issue of Vista magazine (circ. 1 million). But that's all Vista has heard from the national committees or the candidates in an election year that is predicted to pour unprecedented dollars into winning the Hispanic vote.
So far, it's TV spending as usual. This is likely to change as the election nears, and advocacy groups are no longer allowed to run TV ads. According to the new finance reform law, it will be illegal for “soft money” organizations including unions, corporations or advocacy groups, to broadcast issue ads during a 60-day period prior to an election. This may be good news for publishers who have been hoping to see campaign ad dollars come their way.
Parties reach out to all Hispanics
Nicole Guillemard, spokeswoman at the RNC, said the committee will focus on grassroots organizing through their team leader program and a massive voter registration effort involving an eighteen wheeler called “Reggie, the Registration Rig.” The RNC's quarter-page ad in Vista was a recruitment poster for its team leaders program, and reportedly cost US $11,000. Vista publisher Gustavo Godoy says the RNC placed the ad directly, and did not hire an advertising agency or media buying firm. Godoy says that the national committees typically don't have the budgets to contract out.
The RNC would not reveal plans for future print ads in Vista or any other publication. Although sources at Catalina (circ.110,000) said that they have been approached by the RNC regarding advertising in their bimonthly mag targeting Latinas 24 and older.
The Bush-Cheney campaign has not run any print ads yet, but says that print is part of their strategic plan. They've hired National Media, Inc., a media buying firm based in Alexandria, Va., to handle the re-election campaign. National Media, Inc. also handled the administration's Medicare ad campaign, which included television, print and internet ads, as well as 35 million flyers sent to Medicare recipients.
Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokeswoman Fabiola Rodriguez says the DNC will advertise to all Hispanics in both English and Spanish through a campaign which will include TV, radio and print. “We usually hire media consultants, but no one has been hired yet, and we always work with minority vendors.” Right now, the DNC is focusing on earned media – sending press releases, doing interviews.
The NDN takes a different approach
The democratic advocacy group New Democrat Network (NDN), as part of their Hispanic project “Democratas Unidos,” pledged an unprecedented $5 million in Spanish-language advertising designed to educate recent immigrants about the Democratic Party and what it has done for Hispanics. Maria Cardona, vice president of media relations and director of the Hispanic Project, calls their ad campaign “a persuasion piece,” and says that it is not something the Democrats have typically employed with Latinos because they have made the assumption that Hispanic equals Democrat.
Mack Quintana, publisher of the El Paso Times (daily, circ. 77,212, Sundays 96,342), says Cardona might be on to something. During the 2000 elections, Bush ran a massive ad campaign in Texas and managed to carry El Paso, a traditionally democratic city. He was the first Republican to win El Paso.
Although the NDN will focus primarily on TV ads, Cardona said they are considering newspaper ads and direct mailings later in the summer and closer to the election when, because of finance reform laws, the organization will no longer be able to run television spots. The campaign will focus on Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida, the states that have the largest potential swing voters.
ZGS Communications of Alexandria, Va. and Elevation in Washington, D.C. are handling creative and media buying for the NDN.
Publishers hope parties will wake up to the power of print
Alfonzo Rubalcava, director of national accounts at La Opinión (daily, circ. 128,494) in Los Angeles, says that his paper has not been approached by the parties or other organizations about advertising and he doesn't expect that they will be. “California is already decided. I don't think the parties are going to spend a lot of time and energy here when there are other states where the vote will be much closer.” Rubalcava believes that, in general, newspapers are an underutilized political advertising vehicle, quoting statistics like “9 out of 10 registered voters are newspaper readers” and, “80% of La Opinión readers go to the polls.”
El Nuevo Día (weekdays, circ. 25,000, Spanish-language) in Florida has been actively courting the parties for the past couple of months, but so far no ads have been placed. Publisher Jaime Segura says that Florida will be a key state in the elections again this year.
Trevor Hansen, vice president of marketing and sales for Gemstone Communications, one of a handful of marketing companies that represents ethnic print publications nationwide, also hopes to convince parties and advocacy groups of the precision and effectiveness of print for reaching Hispanic voters. Hansen says that both parties have shown interest in placing ads through Gemstone, but it is still early.
The National Association of Hispanic Publications, Inc. takes issue with the lack of print ads targeting Hispanic voters. In response, they have joined together with other Hispanic organizations to create the Media Summit Committee, which will work to boost corporate and government Spanish-language ad dollars during the election year. Zeke Montes, chairman of the Fair Play Coalition, one of the committee members, sees it as the government's responsibility not only to talk to Hispanics, but to talk through them as well – through their newspapers and publications.
Why not print?
“TV is a lot safer, financially,” says Trevor Hansen. “Broadcast is audited, and it has a one-size-fits-all placement.” According to John Trainor, founder and director of Papel Media Network, a Chicago based Hispanic marketing services company, “there is some level of stereotyping involving Hispanic newspapers and their ability to reach Hispanics. Newspapers are an effective medium that reach people at the grassroots level.” He says that politicians have largely overlooked the power and effectiveness of printing inserts. “We can reach a minimum of 5,000 people in a specific zip code, meaning that advertisers can reach exactly who they are trying to target.”
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