Election windfall for ad industry

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Johannesburg - Billions of rands are expected to flow into the advertising industry from marketing efforts by seemingly well-heeled political parties.

Campaigns for votes extended across multiple platforms – including broadcasting, print, digital media and SMS, placards and textiles – ahead of the election yesterday.

Preliminary data indicate the ANC has been the biggest spender on TV, with potential ad spend of R17 million in rate card value between March 1, when political parties started advertising, until April 29.

The party had more than 600 ad spots on TV.

It was followed by the DA, whose 377 spots on TV are estimated to be worth R13.1m in rate card value.

On Tuesday, the advertising industry continued to tally the bonanza. The Association for Communication and Advertising, which represents more than 100 small and large agencies, said it could comment only once all campaigning was wrapped up.

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Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita, the chairwoman designate of the JSE, casts her vote. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

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The data were provided by Connect, a subsidiary of advertising group M&C Saatchi.

The data reflected rate card value for the number of times a party advert was flighted. The figures, however, did not reflect discounts the parties might have received, according to strategist Jean Rimmer.

“Therefore we can presume that no party actually spent these amounts, but it at least gives us an idea of proportion relative to one another,” Rimmer said.

She said further analysis showed most of the smaller parties on the list did not pay for any of their adverts.

The exposure these parties received was part of their party election broadcast slots. The slots are free to each party, based on several factors, and each party is required to produce and supply a 60-second advert.

Rodney Wainer, the director of Alive Advertising, said his company had secured an exclusive contract to flight digital adverts for the ANC across the firm’s 52 electronic billboards countrywide.

Some of these billboards are suspended from bridges in prime locations such on as the M1 highway in Johannesburg.

The ANC contract was worth between R1m to R2m, according to Wainer, who declined to disclose the exact amount.

Many other large agencies that were contacted declined to comment.

Doug de Villiers, the chief executive of branding specialist Interbrand Sampson South Africa, agreed that advertising spend over the election period might be large enough to make a significant contribution to the industry’s annual revenue.

De Villiers said that to his knowledge some advertising agencies – such as Young and Rubicam (Y&R), now a subsidiary of global advertising giant WPP – had largely been built from “a lot of work” they had undertaken for elections previously.

Michelle Cavé, the public relations director for Y&R Advertising, said the company had not developed election campaigns.

However, its Cape Town agency had assisted the Western Cape government.

“The contract lies with the provincial government, not any political party.”

What some political parties probably failed to invest in was sound brand advice.

De Villiers said some print adverts and posters were discoloured. “Much of the ANC posters seem to lose the yellow,” he said, adding “a lot depends on budget”.

Voters often disregarded the promise if the branding was compromised. “If the visual presentation is poor that makes the promise less believable.”

What is likely to be of interest to analysts is the role played by digital mediums in campaigning and convincing the country’s youth to cast a ballot.

US President Barack Obama had “changed the world of campaigning by going highly digital”, De Villiers said.

However, many of the parties contesting the elections used the free party election broadcast slots allocated to them on public radio and TV by the Independent Communications Authority of SA, according to law.

Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters is one such party. Spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said this week that the party had no advertising budget and had designed its own posters and paraphernalia, including the production of its TV adverts.

The DA and ANC did not respond to calls. - Business Report


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