Don't Touch that Dial

Candidates in the March Primary election spent nearly $12 million to broadcast more than 8,500 TV ads to the Chicago market. But while the primary ended on March 21, the ads have not. Gov. Blagojevich, in a highly unusual move, continued to air spots after the primary. The third wave of these post-primary ads begins today.

Over the course of the primary, four TV station in Chicago billed over $1 million for political ads. WLS (ABC- Channel 7) led the pack with $4.2 million in billings, followed by WMAQ (NBC – Channel 5) with $3.0 million.

Ironically, the top spenders on ads lost the primary. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz spent over $2.4 million during calendar year 2006, only to finish fourth in his race. Cook County Board President hopeful Forest Claypool spent $1.9 million, but he, too, came up short at the ballot box. Gov. Blagojevich was the only of the top three spenders who won his primary.

Immediately after his primary victory, Gov. Blagojevich continued to air spots. These post-primary ads have come in waves, the third of which begins today.

• The first wave, which began immediately after the primary and continued through mid-April, featured 30-second spots. In frequency and distribution, this wave was largely similar to the pattern he established in the primary, with a high concentration in news and public affairs and daytime programming.
• The second wave, which began in late-April and ran for about three weeks, featured 15-second spots bookended during ad breaks.
• The third wave, which begins today and runs at least through next week, appears similar in placement to the second. We don’t know how broadly this third buy will run; contracts at WLS call for $136K worth of ads.

All told, the governor has now spent more after the primary than before; this calendar year, he has spent nearly $4 million running ads in the Chicago market alone.

Charts summarizing the ad buys will be available through ICPR’s homepage later today.