Signs of the Times - January 2013 - (Page 104)

EDITORIALLY SPEAKING By Wade Swormstedt “A majority said they sold ‘significantly more’ political signs in 2012 than 2011.” PoliSignage Not much was spent for on-premise signage. Due to incessant phone calls and ahas a nation of saturation TV/radio ads, perhaps never before been so relieved to reach the end of an election cycle. The Center for Responsive Politics has reported that a record $6 billion was spent on federal campaigns in 2011-12: $2.6 billion went for the Presidential campaign for 16 candidates; $743 million for 250 Senate candidates, and just over $1 billion for 1,695 Congressional candidates. And, of course, that doesn’t even count state and local elections. So, how much of a windfall did this provide for on-premise sign companies? I don’t know, but ST sent out a survey to try to find out. Response was minimal (28 replies), but it at least provides a snapshot. Including companies that said they didn’t produce any political signs in 2012, only $158,700 in political-sign sales was realized by sign companies whose aggregate sales are $9.3 million. Which means, roughly 1.7%, of total sales. Outdoor advertising presumably fared much better. According to the November 12 Media Daily News, the OOH segment received $377.4 million in political ad revenue in 2012, a 52.8% increase over the $247 million spent in 2008. And this doesn’t even include September-November data, which isn’t yet available. “The biggest factor impacting OOH political sales this year was digital technology. Many campaigns found the nimbleness of digital content appealing, which allowed campaigns to change content in near real-time. This allowed more campaigns to consider OOH as a strategic component of broader communication plans,” said Stephen J. Freitas, the chief marketing officer for the Outdoor Adv. Assn. of America, Inc. (OAAA). Here are some more data from the ST survey: • A majority said they sold “significantly more” political signs in 2012 than 2011, and 40% said the same thing when compared to 2008. • Yard signs accounted for 78% of the sales; banners provided another 16%. • Screenprinting (52%) was used slightly more than digital imaging (47%). • Republicans (61%) nearly doubled Democratic expenditures (31%). • Local campaigns accounted for a majority of spending (54%), followed by state-level issues (37%) and national campaigns (9%). • A third of the respondents donated signage to a candidate or cause. 104 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / JANUARY 2013 / • 40% of the respondents required full payment in advance; another third specified 50% down. A few brave souls allowed 100% payment on delivery. • Only 27% of the respondents charged a premium for rush jobs. • Turnaround time was most often a week (53%) or “a few days” (40%). I have some related questions: • How many local candidates who purchased signs will subsequently support sign codes that curtail or ban the use of temporary signs? • How many candidates who purchased space on electronic billboards will subsequently state that EMC billboards are dangerous distractions? • How many sign companies who fabricated signs for a candidate have ever met that candidate face to face, or at least attempted to develop a relationship? Of course, all of this brings a macro issue to the surface. In this age of electronic communication and social media, what’s the status of the on-premise sign (with a parallel question: What’s the status of brickand-mortar store shopping?). As I write this, Black Friday hasn’t arrived yet; as you read this, the holiday season is probably over. “I” believe the “I”nternet, “I”phones, etc., have made the on-premise sign more important than ever. I believe that electronic awareness of products increases aggregate demand more so than online purchasing, so people still need to find the store (in-car GPS notwithstanding). I doubt that impulse shopping’s importance to the retailer will ever change. And there’s this little problem with the economy that on-premise signs could help alleviate. Finally, I worry that the Republican party’s multifaceted, insipid alienation of a majority of American citizens might cause an unintended, but nevertheless lasting, backlash of accelerating government control at the local level, which invariably bodes ill for on-premise signs. ■

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - January 2013

Signs of the Times - January 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review
Technology Review
Design Matters
New Products
Scenes from the Global Village
Crane Truck Safety Advice
Supreme Wrap
The Value of Signs
Industry News
Advertising Index
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - January 2013