Getting tired of seeing political ads on TV? Well, get used to it. The Orlando market was #2 in the nation for total dollars spent on TV political advertising last month. And there’s a lot more to come. I’m sure you’re noticing that most of the ads are negative and some are positive. I bet you’re wondering how these political media gurus come up with the ad content and what other ways they use to get their message out. I sat down with Beth Watson, Account Manager for Ron Sachs Communication to answer some of your questions. Ron Sachs Communications specializes in both political and business advertising in Orlando and Tallahassee
Q: What would you say is the biggest difference in political advertising now compared to what you saw in 2008?
A: I would say this year, in all arenas; the negative campaigning has hit an all time low. And based on comments now appearing in social networks, the public is fed up with it. This is a finely balanced issue that social networking could easily impact in the future. It remains to be seen, however.
Q: What would you say are the biggest pros and cons about negative ads?
A: The biggest pro about negative advertising is that it brings out issues that the public might not have been aware of. Hopefully, the public will look into the issues and do their own research to determine their truths. The cons about negative ads are that it often makes the attacking candidate look petty, mean and too aggressive. It can easily backfire and turn the public against the candidate. And if the negatives are false, they most definitely will.
Q: When does a political ad become “false advertising”? There are obviously standards that advertisers have to follow, does that not apply to political ads when some are blatantly lying?
A: It seems that in political advertising, “all is fair in love and war” and the public takes much of the false statements with a grain of salt. However, if a candidate is lying, and the opponent can prove it, it becomes an ethics and integrity issue that can kill the lying candidate. Lying or false advertising is something that the public will not tolerate, particularly in an election. The public expects and holds their leaders to a high standard.
Q: How are campaigns these days incorporating social media?
A: The current campaigns have incorporated the various social media to highlight their messages, their visits to communities, to spread the messages of their stances, and to get past media, which traditionally, didn’t cover everything a candidate wants to address. It has also proven that they can overcome their opponents’ issues concisely. It does make it a bit harder to criticize an opponent badly because social media can be traced. YouTube played an integral role in the overthrowing of government in Libya and Egypt – a prime example of social media changing the way the world works.
Q: Should candidates be on social networks? If so, what kind of response strategy is suggested?
A: Why not? Social networks have changed the way we live and communicate. Candidates need to find every avenue to reach out to the public AND to get the youthful voters’ attention. If that is a strategy to reach the younger voters, who traditionally have been apathetic, kudos! Response strategy….take a stance and promote it. I wouldn’t say attacking your opponent’s stance is a good strategy on social networking. But being clear, honest, straight forward and concise — that’s the benefits of social networking and communications.
Joe Culotta, Ad 2 Government Relations Chair