TV viewership of RNC down from 2008; Newsweek ‘Hit the Road Barack’ a hit

The balloons have all been popped, speeches analyzed, delegates homeward bound, broadcast media crews are in Charlotte, N.C. for yet another week of convention. For those of us watching, the Republican Party put on a good show. Lots of motivational speakers took their turn on the platform; each providing us a glimpse of their own personal story of triumph over long odds.  A great line-up of senators, governors, Olympians, athletes and actors all took their turn to raise their voice in support of the Romney-Ryan ticket.  After spending all of this time and effort in constructing this grand production, one wonders just how big an impact the Republican National Convention and the buzz created will have on changing the tide of the election in the next 10 weeks.

Who was watching and when ?

Latest reports from networks on those who viewed Marco Rubio’s introduction and Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech:

Compared to the final night of the 2008 RNC. Fox News was just about flat compared to 2008, losing around -2% of its viewership, while NBC (-56 percent), ABC (-26 percent), CBS (-30 percent), CNN (-52 percent)and MSNBC (-25%) were down mid double digits.

From 10-until around 11:20 p.m., when all of the networks were televising the RNC, Fox News averaged 9.06 million total viewers, including 2.56 million adults 25-54. ABC News overtook NBC for the No. 2 slot, averaging 4.44 million viewers including 1.61 million adults 25-54. NBC was next with 3.85 million viewers, including 1.46 million adults 25-54, followed by CBS with 3.73 million viewers, including 1.51 million adults 25-54. CNN drew 2.33 million total viewers and 903,838 adults 25-54, with MSNBC bringing in 1.88 million viewers, including 625,712 adults 25-54.

From 8-11 p.m., FNC averaged 6.61 million total viewers, including 1.63 million adults 25-54. CNN averaged 1.66 million viewers, including 580,648 adults 25-54, and MSNBC brought in 1.88 million total viewers and 464,809 adults 25-54.

Four years later, it appears that the audience tuning in is down compared to the John Mc Cain -Sarah Palin Convention.  Could it be that most citizens were more interested in the latest Episode of Big Brother or that final pre season football match-up?  It might be that voters are just plain tired of all of the electioneering and campaigning that has gone on over the last year.  With the nomination in the bag, there was really no drama or suspense in Tampa. Despite this lack of intrigue, audience figures were still respectable. It will be very interesting to monitor the amount of coverage that networks provide this upcoming week for the Democratic Convention where there is absolutely no mystery or controversy about the outcome.  Will voters tune in for a four-day convention filled with a roster of speakers espousing democratic value and admiration for the President?  I would think not. We will be monitoring regardless.

Obama Newsweek cover a hit for the magazine

Interesting tidbit from Advertising Age: It seems that the editors of Newsweek published a cover story in their August 27th issue entitled “Hit the Road Barack” — Why we need a New President. Critics claimed that the piece was filled with inaccuracies and that the content was “completely incoherent” as well as “absurd propaganda.” Despite all of this rancor, The Magazine Information Network finds that this cover  “may have just knocked it out of the park from a newsstand sale standpoint.”  It appears from the data that 2x more consumers picked up a copy of Newsweek with this cover vs. the average issue. In fact, the data also documents that IPAD downloads were 4.3x higher than usual.  Editor Tina Brown said, “The Newsweek cover is a place for robust debate and that’s clearly what excites readers”.  Based on this success, I would surmise that the edit team is working overtime designing next week’s cover to take advantage of this data. Kinda shoots holes in the popularity Obama popularity factor.

Facebook fans jump

It appears that Zac Moffat and the crew in the GOP have gotten Facebook religion…finally.  Starting with the days leading up to the convention and during this past week, there have been an onslaught of posts by the Romney & Ryan team. Each mention provides the Facebook audience an opportunity to “like” a campaign message or a commitment not to vote for Barack Obama. The strategy is working over the past two weeks. Mitt Romney has gained over 1,409,019 Facebook Likes in the last two weeks and currently sits with 5,582,027. In comparison, Barack Obama has gained just   267,543 during the same period.  Romney has most definitely picked up momentum in this sector generating 6x the likes during the 2 week period but still trails Obama by 22,468,524 on Facebook.  The real debate will now focus on whether the massive Obama base can be invigorated in the next week or whether they too are in a state of malaise. If President Obama is to win reelection, he must reenergize that base in the same way that happened in 2008.

Money­ — money — money

A couple of thoughts on the Romney email strategy.  After having run several of the industry’s leading email service provider companies I can tell you that the Romney-Ryan email effort lacks any real understanding of how to engage with consumers or voters. Every email that I have received, whether it is “sent by” Ann or Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Reince, Zac Moffat..Looks exactly the same.  Each has been designed in “letter form” on Romney-Ryan stationary.  The format is always the same. There is some well meaning copy about one issue or another and then the punch line is always donate $3 or $7 or $20.12. If Mitt Romney wins in November, I can virtually assure you that it wasn’t on the back of this email strategy.  If Mr. Moffat says that he has over 100 folks working on his digital team…I would love to meet the email czar. This stuff is awful.

Please, I am begging you, stop having folks robo-call my house at all hours of the day and night who can barely pronounce my name asking for me to support Mitt Romney. Frankly it got old three months ago and now it’s plain annoying. Someone in the GOP camp must think that we are all pretty stupid.

With 10 weeks to go until election day…why in God’s name are we still asking folks for $3 donations ? Shouldn’t we be spending all of that money in the war chest? The major and spot networks are getting fat and happy reaping the benefit of all of this foolish ad spending on local and national TV spots. It is absolutely ridiculous to see the immense waste of money in this campaign.  I throw out at least one piece of direct mail a day from the Romney camp without opening. I have made my donation and won’t be making another because I have no confidence that the party knows what it is doing in terms of marketing.  The strategy seems to hark back to the days when the philosophy was “throw enough on the wall and some will stick”. That thinking went out of style some 50 years ago…

The road ahead

It seems from every pundit that has a platform, all are predicting that the next 10 weeks are going to be campaign Armageddon. Everyone is preparing us for a new low in mudslinging and name calling. If the ratings from our convention this past week serve as any harbinger of the future, it may be wise for the GOP and others to take close look at the collateral damage that is being exacted on the voting public. It appears that a significant segment of the electorate has grown more than tired of this street fight and is deciding in their own way to tune all of us out. As we raise the volume and intensity of the battlefield tactics let’s all make sure that in winning the battle…we don’t lose the war.

The strategy for winning competitive battles has changed forever as a result of the Internet.  Those that continue to believe that they can “carpet bomb” their way into the White House on either side…do it at their own peril. We should know better. We should expect more from those who hope to govern in 2012.