What Could Swing Spending?

NEW YORK Just about everyone on the buying and selling sides agrees that as much as it’s possible to forecast how advertising strategies will play out, there are several wild cards that will be key factors in determining how much the ad spend will accelerate, and what form it will take.

If New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces his candidacy for president, it could push the ad spend higher, Tracey predicts. If Sen. Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic primary, and the candidate who wins the Republican race opposes gun control, that could trigger a huge wave of contributions to the National Rifle Association so that it can run advocacy ads that favor the Republican candidate, says Tom Edmonds, president of the Vienna, Va.-based political consultancy Edmonds Associates, which represents the NRA’s advertising interests. “If we get a Republican [nominee] who’s not very good on the issue, the NRA may spend most of its time trying to impact the Senate races,” he says.

There are also the polls to consider. “You could say [spending in] Pennsylvania is going to be unbelievable,” says Craig Broitman, president of Katz Media Group’s Millennium Sales and Marketing unit. “Based on history, it’s a swing state.” But if polling shows one candidate has overwhelming popularity in the state, there will be no need to lure undecided voters.

Similarly, Broitman notes that if, for example, one Democratic presidential contender emerges head and shoulders above the other Democratic contenders in advance of the primaries, it could decrease overall spending.

It’s also impossible to know what scandals, or issue groups, could suddenly make a splash. Remember the series of ads from the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth group in 2004, which cast doubts about Sen. John Kerry’s military record?

“It was a big issue, and a lot of money was raised around the Swift Boat veterans,” Edmonds recalls. “Nobody before June of that year knew that was going to happen.”