Gubernatorial advertising: Just so you know the rest of the story

April 5 was a Wednesday. And that morning it looked like talking with some of the political campaigns might start paying off. We had an exchange of questions all centered around ad copy already done with weekly placements through Monday, May 15. Quotes for full page and half page; quotes for full color and black and white.

All of that from one gubernatorial campaign where money wasn’t an issue.

Note it was a Wednesday. The campaign wanted the ads to start on Sunday,  April 9, That’s pushing the limit to get the ads in newspapers with a Sunday edition but if you know anything about Rachel, she was going to do all she could to get it done. She prepared quotes on what the campaign wanted, the full and half pages, the full color and B&W. The campaign targeted 25 counties that were important. And those 25 counties had a total of 44 newspapers.

We got ready for a good size placement. It could amount to about $58,000 a week, from April 9 through May 15. Note that the ads were already done, according to the campaign and everything was approved but they needed to brief the candidate.

Maybe you read April 14’s On Second Thought, about a campaign asking if Kentucky had only one Congressional district. Strange question from a campaign running for a statewide office but we explained no there are six Congressional districts in Kentucky. If you missed that article, here’s a link to it:

Turns out, the idea was for the ads to focus on the election ballot itself.

The second exchange made us confident the placement was going to happen and we couldn’t wait to count the number of weeks between April 5 and May 15 and the dollar amount that could be.

What’s more compelling, what made us more confident the campaign wanted to get the ads started immediately and carry through to the primary election day was one sentence that ended the campaign’s email. It’s the same email that listed the 25 counties and asked us to double-check it involved 44 newspapers.

“We are so excited to support our local newspapers. Give me a call if you have any questions!” (Emphasis in bold added.)

“It’s going to happen Rachel!!” I told her and she dropped everything else to get this placement underway. The quote was sent just as requested. We verified they received it. Another campaign staff member called to say one of the campaign higher ups would be contacting me quickly and I told him she already had. I had to keep Rachel focused because she had so many other ads in process that putting aside the campaign might discourage them from running the ads.

If the ads were to start on that Sunday, the 9th, Rachel needed the ads like NOW!! No word from the campaign. Thursday came, no word from the campaign. Nothing on Friday or through the weekend. Ok, so they’ll start it a week later than planned. That’s ok, we’ve pushed newspaper advertising and it seems the first one is going to come through, There’s still a month til the election so plenty of time to get the message out to voters, through newspapers.

Then came word that the print campaign for the candidate was being put on hold. No word on who made that decision but still holding out hope a placement would come through.

The election’s over, as you know. The placement never came and frequent contact waned until there was no contact the last few weeks.

See the bold quote above about “We are so excited to support our local newspapers” and then note that the candidate did NOT run even one small ad in her home county, Barren County. Apparently, she ran only one full page, full color ad in ONE newspaper and you can read about that placement in Charles Myrick’s column calling out primary candidates for the “alarming” lack of support. That’s elsewhere in this week’s On Second Thought.

From the hours Rachel put in on this account that took her away from placements already in process, it reinforces the thought we should charge agencies and advertisers for preparing a quote just in case it doesn’t come through. All too often, those potential clients take all the information Rachel gathers and then go on their own placing the ads.

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