Programming

MTV, Comedy Central Get First Presidential Ads

Viacom-owned cable networks opened doors to candidate-specific commercials one month ago. 7/29/2008 09:35:00 AM Eastern

Surrogates for presumptive presidential nominees Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) are duking it out on MTV and Comedy Central, which opened their doors to political candidate-specific commercials one month ago.

Advocacy group MoveOn.org began what was reported to be a $150,000 ad buy for a 30-second spot themed “It Could Happen to You” starting Tuesday on both MTV and Comedy, which are both Viacom-owned. The ad does not attack McCain and its message is that Obama offers hope. A Comedy spokesman said the Obama spot was its first ad ever for a presidential candidate.

Those ads push back at pro-McCain ads themed “Both Ways Barack” on MTV days earlier bought by Let Freedom Ring. That was MTV’s first presidential ad.

A spokesperson said MTV’s policy is to sell ads from third parties such as Let Freedom Ring on a case-by-case basis, and it will take direct ads from candidates.

Buying entertainment-oriented cable networks is unusual in presidential campaigns, which typically seek news and information time slots.

“While we expect advertising growth to slow across the cable-network industry in calendar Q3, the first-time acceptance of political advertising by MTV Networks could help growth in the back half of 2008,” noted a posting by Pali Research media analyst Rich Greenfield.

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