Less than a week to Election Day and the political media blitz is running full blast.
Lawn signs dot tree-lined neighborhoods. Campaign pamphlets clutter windshields and doorways. Political commercials intersperse evening sitcoms.While most Utahns tire of campaign rhetoric long before the polls open, the advertising agencies that produce the political campaigns run at a frenetic pace until Election Day.
"Everything has to be done yesterday because there are no tomorrows," said Brent J. Welch, marketing director of R&R Advertising.
Ask Welch to describe the atmosphere of an ad agency the week before the general election, and he jokingly replies, "Got a tranquilizer?"
Doubtless it is one of most stressful seasons for advertising firms. Political strategies can change daily, and the advertising firms must be equipped to change the focus of an ad campaign with little notice.
"There are big decisions made, remade and changed again. It's stressful for the candidates, too, and we do all we can to keep them satisfied," Welch said.
Strategists not only work against the clock, they work with limited budgets. Although there seems to be an endless supply of commercials touting the attributes of political candidates or ballot issues, it's not a real moneymaker. "Budgets are one of the biggest challenges we face. We watch them extremely well," Welch said.
A number of signmakers, advertising agencies and public relations firms contacted randomly said they avoid political work because they have been burned in the past by candidates whose demands exceeded their budgets. As a result, a lot of the work goes out of state.
"There's a lot of wishful thinking and good intentions," Welch said.
As a rule of thumb, businesses that handle political advertising demand cash in hand before they start a proj-ect.
"We have a policy that we require the cash up front. Every once in a while, we make exceptions to it, but we try to follow that policy to the best of our ability," said Mike Reberg, public affairs director of Reagan Advertising.
This time of year, any candidate who wants to lease a billboard is generally out of luck since the company leases space on a monthly basis, Reberg said.
"The smart, experienced politicians call as early as the summer, or at the very latest they're dealing with us in September. We had to turn a couple of politicians away just because we didn't have the space available. They just came too late."