Obamacare fight to churn $500M in TV ads


MoneyLocal TV stations around the country are likely to see $500 million in politically themed advertising this year through early next year over the Affordable Care Act. Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group found that $500 million was spent since 2009 on TV ads that mention the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and another $500 million will be spent in the coming months.

That $1 billion spent on a single issue breaks previous records. And if the current trend holds, an overwhelming majority of those ads will attack Obamacare, as the ACA has become commonly known, reports Ad Age:

“Elizabeth Wilner, VP of CMAG, said opponents of Obamacare have outspent its supporters by 5 to 1 when it comes to TV advertising. She also said it took 40 years before ad spending related to Social Security and Medicare, programs that “were once reviled and eventually revered,” reached the billion-dollar mark.

But just how much TV stations will gain from the ad blitz is difficult to tally. That’s because the ACA ads will most likely take the place of many other so-called issue ads. In other words, politicians and PACs will use the subject to hammer opponents, letting other issues fall by the wayside.”

The conservative group Americans for Prosperity is the latest org to launch a major ad campaign attacking Obamacare. The 30-second ad titled “Questions” begins with Julie, a mother of two, who says, “Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures. The medical care he received meant the world to me. Now, I’m paying more attention and I have some questions about Obamacare. If we can’t pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need? And what am I getting in exchange for higher premiums and a smaller paycheck? Can I really trust the folks in Washington with my family’s health care? I think we all deserve some answers.”

Organizing for Action, the grass-roots group pushing some of the president’s priorities and being run by some of his former campaign officials, is mounting its own efforts at building public support for Obamacare. Releasing its second ad as part of a summer series, OFA is focusing on the elimination of lifetime caps for health care coverage. The spot features a girl, Zoe Lihn, who had open heart surgery hours after being born: “Before Obamacare, insurance companies could put lifetime caps on your health insurance,” the girl’s mother, Stacey Lihn, says in the 30-second commercial. “Zoe was halfway to her cap before her first birthday.”

Since a Democratic-controlled Senate has blocked nearly 40 House attempts to repeal the ACA and will continue to do so, the new anti-ACA ads aren’t meant to put any pressure on individual members of this Congress. They are instead an early foray into next year’s midterm elections, said the story.

States will also be spending. California, for example, has an $86 million ad campaign aimed at enrolling eligible residents. The other TV ads from state-run health insurance exchanges created under the ACA have launched in Oregon, Kentucky, Colorado and Connecticut. Several more states, including Hawaii and Vermont, are expected to launch ads in the coming weeks, ahead of the 10/1 start of open enrollment.

See the Ad Age story here.