MoveOn Looks for Help to Run Romney Horse Ad in NBC's Olympics Coverage
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/27/2012 2:25:34 PM
The organization has not yet been able to come up with the necessary funding to pay the going NBC rate for ad time in the Games, according to sources familiar with the situation. NBC had no comment.
The wife of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney co-owns Rafalca, a horse that will be ridden by her riding coach Jan Ebeling in the Olympics. MoveOn, in an email solicitation letter to its membership sent out Thursday to raise funding for the commercial time, says, "The irony jumps out at you: [Mitt] Romney pampers that precious horse, but he can't wait to repeal affordable healthcare for 30 million Americans."
The commercial would contend that Rafalca "lives quite a cushy life on a 5,000-acre estate, with a chartered jet and better healthcare than the average American family, including chiropractors and massages."
MoveOn representatives have spoken with NBC Sports sales, according to sources, but the PAC wanted to pay much less than the network would accept for a single unit. Various reports have NBC charging an average $750,000 per 30-second spot, but most of the advertisers in the Games have bought extensive packages so that average price is most likely lower. But the network is not going to discount a one-ad buy, which sources said would be unusual since most Olympics advertisers rarely buy only one spot.
President Obama's campaign has bought ad time in the NBC primetime telecasts, reportedly paying $6 million for a series of commercials, but the candidates themselves under Federal law must be charged a lower unit rate. That is not the case for political action committees.
Broadcasters must also give political candidates what is called "reasonable access" to commercial time if they want to buy it, but that does not hold true for political action committees. Broadcasters can simply turn down the ads.
But the folks at MoveOn did not reach that point, according to sources. Since a rate could not be agreed on, NBC did not need standards and practices staffers to review the commercial.
The MoveOn letter says, "Our Olympic TV ad [would be] an incredible opportunity to reach a huge audience with a powerful message."
The dressage competition begins Aug. 2, so it still has time to pay the rate that NBC wants to charge. And NBC, sources say, still has commercial avails in the Games, so if MoveOn comes up with the necessary cash, the commercial can still find its way on the air.
Media reports have said that the Romneys are expected to attend the opening ceremonies of the Games on July 27 with Mitt Romney heading back to the U.S., while his wife sticks around for the dressage competition next week.
MoveOn would not be the first to take a public poke at Rafalca. One night last month, Stephen Colbert opened his show on Comedy Central with a long segment on the horse.
Dressage, by the way, has been likened to figure skating for horses. In the competition, the horses are judged on both a performed series of motions and a freestyle routine set to music.
NBC recently announced that it has sold $1 billion in advertising for the Olympics on its combination of television and digital platforms, so getting an ad from MoveOn is, at this point, not a top priority for the network. However, if MoveOn comes up with enough money and makes NBC an offer it can't refuse, Rafalca could become an even better known commodity around the country, beyond all her dressage publicity. NBC is televising the equestrian competition on its cable NBC Sports Network during daytime hours, while the MoveOn spot could run in primetime.
Reports have stated that Rafalca's owners are planning to use the mare for breeding after the Games. Winning an Olympic medal could help bring in more money for offspring. And regardless of what the commercial airing would do to Mitt Romney's campaign, chances are good the exposure will bring Rafalca higher breeder fees. The axiom "any publicity is good publicity" probably works as well for horses as it does for humans.
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