Magazine article Campaigns & Elections

Rise of the 15-Second Political Spot?

Magazine article Campaigns & Elections

Rise of the 15-Second Political Spot?

Article excerpt

How and when the shorter spots work.

Consumer attention spans are shrinking, and so is the length of the average TV spot. Over the past four years, the 15-second ad has grown in popularity, particularly in the commercial world. But it's not a trend many political media strategists have jumped on board with just yet. One of the exceptions: Democratic strategist Dane Strother.

"If you can't articulate your message in 15 seconds, then it's probably not a very strong message in the first place," says Strother, who has been utilizing the 15-second spot in local races for the past five years.

Given FEC disclaimer laws, which force candidates for federal office to spend anywhere from six to eight seconds telling voters they approved the ad that just aired, the 15second spot has limited viability in House or Senate contests. But in state legislative races, and other local elections, the truncated ad can be a powerful tool.

One way to use the shorter ads, says Strother, is to purchase two 15-second spots on either side of a commercial break. It's about the same price as purchasing a 30-second spot, and the two spots can act as bookends. Strother typically starts with a positive spot, and ends the break with a negative.

During former Nevada Rep. Dina Titus' 2006 campaign for governor, Strother says that was the precise media strategy he employed for the campaign.

"We kept hitting the opponent over and over again [with 15-second spots]," says Strother. "We won that primary having been outspent 3 to 1."

According to data from Nielsen, a total of 60,922 political spots aired in 2008 were 15-second ads. …

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