US Presidential elections dwarf apna LS polls in ad-spends

By , agencyfaqs! | In | November 04, 2004
Spending on US political advertising is projected to exceed Rs 3,000 crore vis-a-vis India's political ad campaign cost of Rs 300 crore

It seems Uncle Sam lords over our Bharat, even when it comes to electoral ad spends. & #BANNER1 & # Consider this: When the world's largest democracy went to polls in May 2004, the elections were marked by heavy-duty political parties making a huge splurge in advertisements. Remember BJP's 'India Shining' campaign?

The estimated campaign cost came to about Rs 300 crore - an unprecedented amount in the Indian context. That figure included six national political parties and 45 regional ones and every conceivable form of political campaign involving TV, print, below-the-line, banners, posters and hoardings.

Cut to the ongoing US Presidential elections. Spending on US political advertising is projected to exceed $601 million (or over Rs 3,000 crore) this year, according to media research firm TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Perhaps, doing a comparison is not right, given the size of the US economy vis-a-vis ours. But it's nevertheless interesting to note how advertising expenses in the US dwarfs India, despite the fact that Indians outnumber US citizens by about three times.

What's also noteworthy is that the government's entire electoral expenses during the 2004 elections were about Rs 10,000 crore; for the1999 Lok Sabha, the bill came to Rs 7,000 crore.

In the US, television has clearly emerged as the most popular medium for the Presidential polls. Ad spends centered largely on spot television ads, where billings came to $546.6 million. Radio came in a distant second, with $25.5 million of spendings, followed by network cable TV at $24.5 million. Internet advertising, despite making a much better show compared to earlier years, trailed behind TV and radio at $4.2 million. In India, total yearly advertising spend on the Net comes to about Rs 100 crore and political parties come no where in the advertisers list.

In the US, newspapers accounted for a puny $0.2 million in US Presidential campaigns, and was easily the least favoured by campaign managers.

In India, such detailed break-ups are simply not available as much of the campaigning like banners and bill-boards take place at local levels. The Congress party had an official ad budget of around Rs 40 crore, while BJP's kitty was Rs 50 crore. Therefore, it's apparent that much of the campaigning was below-the-line and not on mainline media like print and television.

Evan Tracey, COO of TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, has been quoted by the US media as saying: "Political advertising in Election 2004 has been a watershed event and will change how future election campaigns are implemented." TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG is a TNSMI/CMR company that tracks political ad spending.

"Advertising for both the presidential and other down ballot races was historic in size. The number and diversity of advertisers and messages will now create a roadmap of new standards by which future campaign advertising battles will be waged," he added.

In the first ten months of 2004, US Presidential election spending across select TNS Media Intelligence/CMR measured media reached $601 million, or 42 per cent of the total dollars spent on political advertising messages in the US. Federal, state and local election messages, along with ballot issue advertising activity totaled $847 million.

Will Indian political advertising too achieve these colossal proportions? In time, it probably will. But hey! it ain't happening in the near future.

© 2004 agencyfaqs!