In the United States, Super Bowl Sunday is a de facto national holiday. NFL fans tune in for the game, and non fans enjoy the halftime entertainment and commercials. Friends and family are gathered, food is eaten, and unless you are in one of the two cities whose team is playing in the game, it is more of an excuse to party than watch football. It has been this way for a few decades now and people like it, but with the presidential campaign season starting so early, 2008 could be different.

I read an article today that said some presidential campaigns are toying with the idea of running ads during the Super Bowl. The reason for this is that currently a dozen states have scheduled their primary elections for the Tuesday after the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XLI drew over 94 million viewers, so it is no wonder that candidates who are raising money at an unprecedented pace would consider trying to use the Super Bowl to reach a gigantic audience. They think that it might be cheaper to advertise during the big game than it would in major markets like NYC and LA, but I don’t think that this is a very good idea. In my opinion, there are several reasons why advertising during the Super Bowl would be a bad move.

The first reason why I think it is a bad idea is cost. It would be expensive to run just one ad. The cost of a 30 second ad during the last Super Bowl was $2.6 million. No matter how much money a candidate raises that is still a huge chunk of change. Second, commercials are viewed as entertainment during the big game. They are part of the show. If “boring” political ads get in the way of the entertainment, this could backfire on the candidates who are running the ads. Super Bowl Sunday is an escapist day when people don’t want to listen to a political message. They want to do what some Americans do best, watch TV and eat.

Third, this method would an inefficient way to communicate a message. Sure the candidate will reach 94 million viewers, but most of them won’t be voting in a primary on the following Tuesday. Every dollar that is spent addressing voters who have already voted is a wasted dollar. Plus, how many Super Bowl viewers are even eligible or registered to vote? I love politics and I like football, but I don’t want the two mixing together. The media blitz surrounding the 2008 campaign will last for most of the year, so can’t they please leave us alone to enjoy our real national pastime for at least one day? To some campaign strategists, running ads during the Super Bowl might seem like a good idea, but I view it as one that would do more harm than good for any candidate.

AP article on potential political ads during the Super Bowl

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse  blog radio 

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