A Super-size ad opportunity for the GOP

OK, let’s go over the cash-on-hand situation.

At the beginning of January, the Republican National Committee (RNC) reported having $34 million in the bank. Over at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), its ledger showed $19 million available. And on the other side of the Hill, Elizabeth Dole’s National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was said to have $10.5 million available.

OK, let’s go over the cash-on-hand situation.

At the beginning of January, the Republican National Committee (RNC) reported having $34 million in the bank. Over at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), its ledger showed $19 million available. And on the other side of the Hill, Elizabeth Dole’s National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was said to have $10.5 million available.

Unless my trusty calculator has blown a circuit, that’s $63.5 million that our major party committees have available for campaigning, $17.3 million more than the comparable three Democratic committees reported in aggregate at year’s end.

Given the advantage that we have accrued, I propose that we become part of a great American tradition by purchasing one Super Bowl ad. It is reported that ABC is selling 30-second spots for between $2.5 million and $2.6 million. That’s only 3.9 percent of our party’s cash on hand and would still leave us almost a $15 million advantage over the Democrats. If we don’t pounce on this today, we’re missing a sweet opportunity.

Of course the brain trust will instinctively argue that this would be too costly. No political party has ever spent $80,000 per second for a political spot. But no political spot has ever had such an audience.

Estimates of the likely size of Sunday’s Super Bowl audience run from 90 million to 130 million. That’s a lot of people. And in my professional opinion, the viewers of a professional-football championship game are a nearly perfect Republican, swing-vote-targeted population.

We won’t be paying good money to share our message with feminists, anti-war demonstrators and other die-hard liberals who would never watch football or consider voting Republican. The audience for Super Bowls is packed with red-blooded patriots, big families bound tightly by traditional values, and small- to large-business owners and officers.

Buying a Super Bowl ad won’t just help the party, it will boost the economy. I know this because I went over the 2005 earnings reports of several media companies. Four of them, The New York Times, McGraw-Hill, Media General and Gannett, all claimed to have suffered in 2005 on account of the decline in political ad spending during the odd-numbered off-year. All promised that political ads will make 2006 a better year. These surprisingly candid admissions suggest that political ad spending is important to corporate America.

ABC has never said that the inventory of Super Bowl ads is sold out. In past years, some slots went unsold or last-minute buyers paid less. So for the GOP to purchase a spot this week could benefit both the party and ABC.

Looking over the advertising trade press and its coverage of the coming Super Bowl ad blitz, I spotted one article that might point to a possible theme for our spot. The Marketing to Moms Coalition commissioned a nationwide survey of U.S. mothers. Sixty-one percent of the moms polled said they will watch the game with their husbands, while smaller percentages reported that they plan to watch with friends (13 percent), their kids (11 percent) or alone (6 percent).

Not surprisingly, a majority of the moms said they are more interested in the ads than the game. But sadly, 80 percent of the moms opined that they don’t feel advertisers target them during the big game.

Even though ACNielsen figures suggest that 43 percent of last year’s Super Bowl viewers between 18 and 49 years of age were women, the ads seem mostly targeted at younger males. So why not produce an ad featuring Laura Bush talking about the Republican vision for our schools? She could describe our progress and goals toward ensuring that no child is left behind.

There are other possibilities, too. Our ad could laud the sacrifices of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan or look forward to the day when a free and open Iraq can hold its own Super whatever.

But as Nike would say, “Just do it,” GOP.

Hill is director of Hill Research Consultants, a Texas-based firm that has polled for GOP candidates and causes since 1988.