September 25, 2012

Note to Romney Camp: Start Sponsoring Real Housewives

Honey Boo-Boo and Family on TLC

Mitt Romney is right: we need to write off 47% of the electorate. Some of these people are stupid, some of utterly dependent on government, and others just don't do math.

The flip side of this is that Romney has 45% of the electorate in the bag. I'm voting for him. Most of you are voting for him. Every dollar spent on people like us is a dollar wasted.

So where should Romney, the RNC, and various PACs be spending there advertising dollars? Conventional wisdom says this money should be used in the swing states. In order to target the swing states, conventional wisdom tells us, massive amounts of money will be used to buy up air time in local markets in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and elsewhere.

Money should be spent on these local markets. But not nearly as much as conventional wisdom suggests.

The fact is that every year fewer and fewer people are watching what local stations are broadcasting. If you are trying to reach people in Ohio, then one might be tempted to spend big money on the local ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates.

But the truth is that on any given night the majority of TV watchers won't be watching the networks. For instance, last week's biggest hit was NBC's broadcast of NFL football. But that only garnered about 6% of the total households in America.

In other words, even on a big night 94% of people aren't tuned in to the networks.

So, what are they watching? Not the networks, that's for sure.

As cable and satellite TV have expanded the choices available to the consumer, more and more people find themselves watching programming more narrowly tailored to their tastes.

I, for one, watch a lot of the nerdy channels. Like History, National Geographic, Discovery, and Travel. Also, sports. My wife hates my shows.

Mrs. Shackleford watches a lot of those shows designed for the suburban wife. Reality shows on TLC and Bravo. I can't be in the same room as the TV when she has The Real Houswives on.

The only thing we have in common is that we never watch the networks any more. Never. The only exception to this rule being college football in my case.

We both figure that if a network show is good enough, it will make it into syndication and we'll catch it either late night (after the kids are asleep) or on Netflix.

Which is why it bothers me so much that I've seen precisely zero ads being run by the Romney camp on a single show I watch. Zero. Zilch.

My wife hasn't seen a single one either.

I have seen two Obama ads, though. One on CNN and one on ESPN. Cable networks that aren't bound by geography. Someone in the Obama campaign gets it.

This isn't rocket science. If you want to swing the swing voters, you have to go where they are. It's just lazy to assume that this means where they are is a reference to geography.

Geography no longer matters when it comes to TV.

Which is why Romney's people need to spend less money on broadcasters in Ohio, and more money on narrowcasters in the rest of the country.

Think of me as your typical in-the-bag Romney voter. Short of a dead prostitute in the back of Romney's limo, he can count on my vote.

Think of my wife as your typical kinda leaning Romney but finds politics distasteful and futile voter. If I didn't nag her I'm pretty sure she wouldn't vote at all.

The dirty little not-so-secret that the MSM doesn't like to talk about is that swing voters and true undecideds are also the least informed about politics.

How do you reach true swing voters like my wife? Advertise on The Real Housewives of (insert any city name here). Or her new favorite show, TLC's Honey Boo Boo.

Which is exactly where you'd expect to find those truly ignorant of politics and firmly embracing middle class values: watching the super rich leisure class and the very poor white trash make fools of themselves.

And the great thing about narrowcasters on cable and satellite is that they are much cheaper. Much, much cheaper. Which means the dollars spent are more effective.

So, Romney's people, I'm begging you, start spending your cash advertising on cable networks. Advertise on all the trash that passes for entertainment these days.

We are this close to winning this thing. But in order to put Mitt over the top you are going to have to accept the new media reality. And that reality is that spending all your money on geographically targeted campaigns is a big waste and could cost you the Presidency.

As distasteful as it might be, sponsoring reality TV shows about minor Kardashians is the best ticket to reaching the truly undecided voter in swing states.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:41 AM | Comments |