Chicago: Mayoral race lifts TV spending
Incumbent Rahm Emanuel is spending heavily to avoid runoff
February 10, 2015
TV ad spending in Chicago has been soft to start the year.
But the city’s looming mayoral election has provided a recent boost that could extend into second quarter.
The city’s mayoral election takes place Feb. 24, with Democratic incumbent Rahm Emanuel seeking a second term.
His campaign spending has helped prop up a TV market that is flat to down slightly compared to last year.
“First quarter is pacing well due to political activity,” says one Chicago buyer. “While Rahm Emanuel is beating the competition in the polls, he is campaigning aggressively.”
Emanuel’s campaign spent $4.8 million between Oct. 1 and Jan. 15, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
It’s in Emanuel’s best interest to do extremely well in the Feb. 24 non-partisan election. If the incumbent gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he automatically earns a second term.
If he does not, a runoff election between the top two finishers will be held on April 7, leading to an extended campaign period that would no doubt benefit local stations.
The latest polls show Emanuel with 42 percent of the vote, well ahead of his competitors but not enough to avoid a runoff.
Outside of political, automotive is driving the TV market in Chicago so far this year, while retailers are also spending.
But categories including financial, insurance and healthcare have decreased spending versus a year ago.
Meanwhile, radio in the Chicago market has been sluggish, after 2014 spending came in flat to down slightly versus 2013.
Chicago is the nation’s No. 3 radio market, and anyone who has visited knows the traffic can lead to lengthy drive times, yet that hasn’t been enough to entice advertisers to the airwaves.
“Slow marketplace spending has station groups in a quandary as to why the third-ranked radio market in the country remains down, while other large markets are experiencing more robust activity,” one buyer says.
Most of the major categories were down year-to-year in 2014, although automakers and dealers have stepped up spending to start this year. Still, the boost from auto hasn’t been enough to offset the overall soft conditions, and the market is pacing about flat to last year’s lackluster performance.
Because of that, radio in Chicago is a buyer’s market with plenty of room for negotiation, particularly for those who place ads at least four to six weeks in advance.
During the holiday ratings period, the latest available from Nielsen Audio, hot adult contemporary station WLIT-FM dominated with its Christmas music format, posting a 14.2 average quarter-hour share, according to portable people meters.
That was well ahead of urban adult contemporary station WVAZ-FM, which was No. 2 during that period with a 6.7 AQH share.
Top 20 Primetime Programs
Week Ending Jan. 25
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