As was covered here, Republican State Senator & County Executive candidate Allan Kittleman launched his air game this week.
I believe this represents the first major strategic mistake by his campaign.
I don’t believe a critical mass of voters, a number likely to comprise a sizable portion of the November 2014 electorate, are paying attention to political news in late July. Some voters are keyed in, but not enough to warrant a significant television ad buy in the post-primary/pre-Labor Day weekend timeframe.
From a strictly technical perspective, the “[select] person-on-the-street” approach of the 30-second spot I viewed last night makes sense. Third party validation by a few Independent and Democratic voters is smart, in light of the HoCo party affiliation numbers. The production quality of the ad was…OK. Not polished, not terrible. Somewhere between Steven Spielberg and Mark Borchardt. The messaging construct was straightforward “I am a [D/I] but I am voting for Kittleman...” About what one would expect from this sort of commercial.
Personally, I think he is flushing cash. These spots are what you run in September… with a heavier, more concentrated, advertising buy. I am assuming the Kittleman high command discussed the timing and the explored the merits of an early launch. There is a legitimate case to be made: frame the narrative of the fall campaign now, save some funds by going up when it is less expensive, maybe/hopefully get a spike with Name ID and a more favorable ballot test to help improve fundraising sooner than later, etc…
Note that I said that there is a legitimate case, but not a compelling one. There are other, better ways to spend time and resources in July and August...especially when:
a) Funds are limited (Watson enjoys a substantial fundraising advantage over Kittleman) and
b) When the ad is not a game-changer. The ad I watched did not fall into that category.
The bottom line: if too few people are watching, what impact are the TV ads really having?
By October, the Kittleman campaign is going to wish they didn’t go up on the air so early.
Stay tuned, as more will follow.