Ross Perot’s decision to re-enter the presidential race is so late in the campaign that it’s unlikely to stimulate a huge advertising revenue windfall for the TV industry. But most expect it will spark a tactical shift, with more dollars moving into local TV and cable as the candidates try to shore up support in the face of rising competition.
Perot has never said how much he would spend on political advertising, but few expect him to put out large sums.
“I wouldn’t get overly excited since he’s spent next to nothing,” said Tom Olson, president of the TV rep firm Katz Communications in New York. His guess is that Perot’s re-entry will have the largest impact on the Republican and Democratic candidates, who may now “go on the offensive” in areas in which Perot enjoys appeal.
“Texas is apt to become a much larger battleground,” said Olson, as is “any area where there is high unemployment,” such as California.
Teddy Reynolds, VP of research for Petry Television, believes President Bush and Bill Clinton will be forced to cut back network expenditures in favor of selected states where they need help. “This will be a boon to spot and cable,” she said.
A year ago, the Television Bureau of Advertising projected that $ 230 million would be spent on political advertising in 1992. The TVB could not verify how close this projection came, but media buyers said that overall political spending has been less than anticipated.
Katz’s Olson said the industry has been “disappointed in the level of political expenditures,” but he noted that spending has picked up in the past two weeks. And he expects that will accelerate as election day nears.
Betty Pumpian, VP and senior network negotiator for Western International Media, Los Angeles, said she had heard a rumor that Perot’s forces has been booking media time two weeks prior to the election. Perot campaign officials did not return phone calls. “My guess is that it (Perot’s re-entry) will bring in some bucks,” she said.