By David Hinckley
The political scene is hot, and BYU football games draw droves of potential voters.
This weekend, Utah politicians plan to take advantage of that fact by flooding the airwaves with political and issue-based ads when BYU football takes on Air Force Saturday.
According to Chad Curtis, regional sales director for KJZZ, candidates and committees have purchased a large number of ads for both the BYU-Air Force and the Utah-UNLV games
The scenario will repeat the barrage of ads Cougar fans viewed during last week”s victory over Wyoming.
“It”s a great demographic,” said Jason Chaffetz, campaign manager for the Jon Huntsman, Jr. gubernatorial campaign. “We know there”s a high degree of Republicans watching BYU football.”
But Republicans aren”t the only ones who took out ads last weekend. According to Scott Burwell, political sales specialist at KSL-TV, both parties are spending big.
Curtis said candidates paid $1,000 for 30-second spots for the upcoming BYU game, and issue-based spots ran as high as $1,500.
Viewers of the game saw that big spending in the form of advertisements. KSL ran ads paid for by Huntsman, others by his opponent, Scott Matheson, Jr., more ads funded by congressional Rep. Jim Matheson and contrary ads put out by his opponent, John Swallow. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party also put out issue ads. Burwell estimated that each candidate took out two spots, and the political parties each took out one. So while the station made 22 30-second spots available to advertisers, political and issue-based advertising took up 10 of them.
Loren Mortensen, 22, a sophomore from Roy, majoring in biology, said he and his friends enjoyed poking fun at the ads.
“They didn”t change my opinion,” he said, but added the ads might sway a less-informed audience.
Although political ads run thick during football games, campaigns are not limiting themselves to sports. Burwell said campaigns target news shows particularly and serious shows generally.
“They love news programs, shows like the ”Today Show,” and the early and late news,” Burwell said. “They also want programs like ”West Wing,” ”Third Watch,” ”Dateline” and even the ”Apprentice.” But they stay away from ”Will and Grace,” ”Joey” — anything with controversy.”
Back at KJZZ, Curtis said games shows are also popular.
“Shows with adult demographics of 35 [years and older] with good, clean content a political candidate would want to sponsor — that”s where they try to focus their dollars.”
Chaffetz said the Huntsman campaign spends around $125,000 every week on TV ads. Representatives from the Scott and Jim Matheson campaigns said they spent similar amounts.