Huffington Post By Nicole Hayes October 19, 2016
In the costly, media-saturated, hyper-social US election, candidates and causes are breaking through the noise with billboards.
Regardless of party or ideology, billboards deliver what political advertising craves: attention.
One clever billboard can generate global buzz.
In 2010, a lone billboard along Interstate 35 in Minnesota featuring a smiling former President George Bush launched a slogan that infiltrated the national political debate: “Miss me yet?”
At the height of the 2016 US election, a billboard in Michigan spoofing candidate Donald Trump’s views on Islam was seen worldwide online.
A billboard posted near Dearborn, MI, reads “Donald Trump can’t read this, but he’s scared of it.” (The Nuisance Committee)
Earlier in the election season, pro-Trump billboards in rural Pennsylvania sponsored by an Amish political action committee lit up social media and the internet.
Consistently provocative and creative PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) posted a double ententre on billboards promoting cat adoption, quoting Trump’s lewd “locker room” phrase.
Pro-choice group ProChoiceCats.com jumped on the same bandwagon, targeting Trump’s controversial comments about women.
In Indiana, a national Republican committee is using billboards to highlight its questions about a Democratic candidate’s residency and source of income.
Not all billboard-political messages are negative. A small billboard for a candidate for county treasurer went viral, with the promise “I won’t steal and I know how to count.”
Factoids: Political Ad Spend
- The doomed Jeb Bush bid for the presidency put its money into TV and radio ($80 million combined from the Bush campaign and pro-Bush groups).
- By the summer of 2016, overall political ad spend was tracking 122 percent above 2012 levels.
- Political advertisers will buy more than $1 billion in digital ad space (online, mobile) this election, compared to a trickle in 2012, according to Borrell Associates. Media analysts say Facebook and Google will get the biggest share of that bonanza.
- Ad-spend data compiled by tracking service Kantar Media says political advertisers spent 16+ percent more on out of home (OOH) ads through August of 2016 compared to the first eight months of 2014.
In 2014, the OOH media share of political ad spend was 1 percent, up from 0.8 percent in 2012, according to data from Kantar Media. Even in the midst of massive growth in online/internet ads, the lion’s share of political advertising goes to TV.