May 2007
Elections 2007

Hey, big spenders!

ACCORDING TO AC Nielsen, the top 12 ad spenders this year had a total bill of P1.6 billion, broken down this way:

Top Political Campaign Ad Spenders
Source: AC Nielsen, Comelec

Prospero Pichay P202.7 million 16
Manuel Villar P195.2 million 4
Joker Arroyo P172 million 9
Edgardo Angara P144 million 7
Loren Legarda P138.2 million 1
Ralph Recto P137.4 million 14
Michael Defensor P121.4 million 15
Tessie Aquino-Oreta P117 million 23
Vicente Sotto III P115.9 million 19
Juan Miguel Zubiri P105.5 million 13
Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson P99 million 24
Vicente Magsaysay P88.3 million 21

Some candidates have questioned the figures, saying they received a considerable amount of discounts. But no one is denying that they did pay sizeable amounts for their ads, and that they paid almost immediately.

Advertising insiders say that unlike regular ads, political commercials do not air unless the candidate issues a manager’s check or gives cash as payment. These are given to the media agencies that are accredited and recognized by the networks for the placement of ads. Regular ads are paid with a leeway of up to 120 days after airing. Those who place political ads do not enjoy the same privilege because the clients do not belong to a company that has existing credit line with media agencies that deal with the networks.

“That is why in some networks, regular ad placements are bumped off in favor of political ads,” says a media agency veteran. Media agencies also give priority to political ads, as these come with higher commissions and the money is given up front. Says another media agency insider: “That why sometimes I see bags and bags of money under the tables of some of our staffmembers.”

A TV network insider explains that the pay-before-broadcast rule was put in place for fear of problems in collection should a candidate lose. She adds that for this year’s elections, most candidates were given just a seven-percent discount. Only a handful were given 20 percent, but only in a few select spots they bought. Based on the accumulated amount, candidates are awarded “plough backs,” or free commercial spots. The spots given, however, are limited to the morning or late afternoon programs, where the cost of ads is lower — never on primetime.

The same pay-now policy has been adopted by many production groups that shoot and edit the ads. An advertising executive reveals that in the past, some production groups were unable to collect from candidates who made themselves scarce after losing at the polls. They hit back by instituting what they call kaliwaan, demanding payment before they hand over the edited product to their clients.

Political ads have become a lucrative sideline for many people in ad and production companies who are known as the “creatives.” For directors alone, the fee could be as high as P100,000 to P400,000 per day. There are no contracts in some deals, so no receipts are issued.

With the cost of running ads running to millions of pesos, the frequent question by many is how the candidates, win or lose, will pay for it. “Ah, wala na akong sagot diyan (Well, I don’t have an answer to that),” says Team Unity’s Reli German. He says his job is focused on getting his candidates elected.

But Publicus head Malou Tiquia has this answer: “Probably from their pork barrel.”