Bloomberg takes on Trump with a $10 million Super Bowl ad

Nick Corasaniti, The New York Times

Posted at Jan 08 2020 12:15 PM

Forme­r New York Mayor Mike Bloom­berg, a Democ­ratic candi­date for presi­dent, speaks in Memphis, Tenn. on Dec. 19, 2019. After news emerged that President Trump’s re-election campaign was looking to run a 30-second ad during the upcoming Super Bowl, the Bloomberg campaign decided to one-up the president: It secured a 60-second spot that will air nationally during the game, an ad buy that will likely cost at least $10 million. Andrea Morales, The New York Times

Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has secured a 60-second advertising slot to air nationally during this year’s Super Bowl telecast, an ad buy that will most likely cost at least $10 million.

Bloomberg campaign officials confirmed the buy Tuesday and said they would be paying “market rate,” although they would not specify the cost of the ad. But executives at Fox, which is broadcasting the game Feb. 2, have said they were seeking “north of $5 million” per 30-second ad.

The Bloomberg campaign said its Super Bowl ad would be a new spot that has not yet aired.

"The biggest point is getting under Trump’s skin," said Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the Bloomberg campaign. By "taking the fight to Trump," Frazier said, "the ad is part of Mike’s strategy of running a national campaign that focuses on states where the general election will be decided, parts of the country that are often overlooked."

Bloomberg’s campaign has continued to set records for political ad spending by a presidential candidate, having already dropped nearly $170 million on television and digital advertising, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm. Bloomberg, a billionaire media owner and former mayor of New York, is funding his campaign with his own money and is not soliciting donations.

"We have the means to raise a national campaign unlike any other candidate," Frazier said.

Bloomberg has made targeting President Donald Trump a core element of his ad strategy. Before he announced his candidacy, he pledged to spend $100 million on ads criticizing the president. And since he launched his bid, his campaign has unloaded a barrage of Facebook attack ads in general-election swing states, seeking to erode support for Trump by highlighting what Bloomberg calls broken promises on infrastructure, health care and dysfunction in Washington.

The Super Bowl ad is a show of financial force rarely seen in presidential politics. Although some campaigns have made local advertising buys during past Super Bowls, a national buy has often been out of reach, given the expense. It is also usually viewed as wasteful to pay to reach a 50-state audience rather than buying ads in the swing states where campaigns would prefer to target their message.

But Bloomberg is running an unconventional primary campaign with a heavy national emphasis, choosing to avoid the four states that vote first in February and instead focusing his efforts on Super Tuesday on March 3, when 14 states will vote.

"It’s actually smart for Bloomberg," said Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco. "Bloomberg is running a national campaign, and the most efficient way to reach a lot of people in a national campaign is buying an ad in a top-rated show. And as expensive as it is, it’s cheaper than buying the ads market by market."

The Bloomberg campaign has rapidly expanded its payroll to 800 staff members over the past month, with 500 organizers on the ground across the 14 Super Tuesday states. The expansion, first reported by NBC News, gives Bloomberg another leg up on his Democratic rivals; former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, for example, has roughly 400 staff members on its national payroll.

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