Liberal political action committee MoveOn wants to buy some
ad time in NBC's TV Olympics coverage to run what it calls a "hilarious ad"
about a horse owned by Ann Romney that is participating in the equestrian
dressage competition in the Games. And it's looking for a discount-and
some membership funds-in order to do it.
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.