Sunday, July 13, 2008

5696: Obama Needs Black Media? Or Vice Versa?

The following story appeared at Despite the perspective of the piece, you have to wonder if Obama really needs to spend in Black media when he’s receiving so much free exposure from them.

African-American Media Waiting on Barack’s Big Bucks
Think He Doesn’t Need to Court Them? Think Again, Say the Experts

By Ira Teinowitz

WASHINGTON -- In 2004, the John Kerry campaign made a July announcement that it would make a $2 million buy in African-American media. The buy, said African-American media experts, was never completed. BET got some money, but not much went elsewhere, they said. This time around, they’re hoping for better from Sen. Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama might want to move beyond race, but African-American media outlets are hoping he remembers his roots. Not only would it benefit their particular media sector, it could also have an impact on congressional and local races.

“We are very optimistic,” said Sherman K. Kizart, senior VP-director of urban marketing for Interep, which as the country’s biggest independent radio rep firm represents more than 100 urban-format stations. He said his company is in talks with Fuse Advertising, the St. Louis agency that handles the Obama campaign’s African-American efforts.

So far, the campaign has done relatively little spending in urban radio, black-aimed cable TV or African-American newspapers.

Obama Nascar
An Obama spokesman said African-American media has been “a high priority to the campaign and will continue to be in the remaining months.” He said the campaign is not in a position to disclose its media strategy. On the opposite side of the coin, Sports Illustrated reported last week that Mr. Obama would be the first presidential candidate to become the primary sponsor of a car in a Nascar race.

As the Obama campaign is unconstrained by public funding and has a mountain of cash at hand, the question might be: Why wouldn’t it spend with African-American media outlets?

Louis Carr, president of media sales for BET Networks, said the cable network also is in talks with Fuse, and he is hopeful.

“I’ve been here 22 years. There has always been real concern that the [African-American] audience is not taken for granted,” he said. “We’re assuming from the Democratic side that that won’t happen this time around. The audience has to be motivated to get out and vote.”

Anything is possible
Conventional wisdom holds that African-Americans will vote Democratic anyway. And in a race in which the Democratic candidate is a black man with a healthy lead in the polls, some have suggested that big spends in the African-American market might not be necessary.

[Read the full story here.]

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