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Colorado Advertisers Spend Heavily on Football, Dancing with the Stars


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by Zach Cook
appeared in Denver Post / Daily Camera 

© by Donna S / Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re looking to escape political advertising in the next few weeks, you’ll have to turn off the television. Whether you are watching football, Dancing With the Stars, Days of Our Lives, or the evening news, the presidential candidates and the super PACs supporting them have an ad – or several – for you.

For a show like Dancing With the Stars, incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican in Colorado’s 6th Congressional, spent $6,000 for a 30-second spot virtually every week through election day. His Democratic competitor Joe Miklosi also bought spots during that show for around the same price.

“We want to reach as many people as possible, and Dancing With the Stars is a popular show, and we want to reach those voters,” said Owen Loftus, Mike Coffman’s spokesman. “Our ads change based on what show and what we need to do to get our message out.”

Broadcast political advertising is at an all-time high in spending compared to the 2008 presidential election in Colorado. Analysis by the CU News Corps shows that from Aug. 2 through Sept. 26 found more than $23.1 million spent on 23,000 ads contracted to run on Denver’s top four television stations. That’s up $4.4 million and 4,200 spots since the last CU News Corps analysis on Sept. 12.

Where are the ads? Virtually everywhere. Both presidential campaigns bought weekly time slots on the soap opera Days of Our Lives on KUSA ranging from $900 to $1,350 per 30-second spot.  Mitt Romney and the Republican Party advertised on Grimm, a show about supernatural fairy tales, paying $1,400 for a 30-second spot. Obama’s campaign bought two 30-second spots on the popular crime show NCIS at $3,750 each. Each of these political spots are repeated weekly up to election day.

Pro football is the costliest ad buy. Last Friday, the Obama campaign spent $104,000 for a two-minute spot to run just before the Broncos-Raiders contest Sunday. Republican super PAC American Crossroads spent $45,000 for a single 30-second spot during the Sept. 9 Denver Broncos game on KUSA. And the Obama campaign plans to spend $60,000 for two ads during the Oct. 28 Denver Broncos game and $20,000 for two 30 second ads during an NFL  game on Nov. 4, two days before the election. A Notre Dame game the day before is considerably cheaper at $1,000 for the Obama campaign.

Why advertise during a football game?

“A lot of people watch football in this state, especially the normally hard to reach male demographic,” said Mark Cornetta, president and general manager of KUSA. “Not only do a lot of men watch football, but so do a lot of women, meaning that these ads can reach a lot of people.”

The most common buy for political ads is the local news. Campaigns want to reach the news-watching demographic the most, with ads in local news for Miklosi totaling 180 spots over several weeks during KMGH news broadcasts, for example.

“It is very important to get our message across,” said Ryan Hobart, spokesman for the Miklosi campaign. “We want to reach those people [watching Dancing with the Stars or some other show] so we can influence their vote.”

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Explanatory Multimedia Reporting from CU Boulder Journalism Students
Colorado Advertisers Spend Heavily on Football, Dancing with the Stars