Getting an audience with the president is a difficult deal to swing. Not everyone is Jigga. However, for the right amount, some influence peddlers believe they can get Obama's attention through some expensive means. Obama is the ESPN President. Obama is on ESPN nearly as often as G.W. was on his cattle ranch. The line between sports and entertainment has been permanently blurred. Advertisers have taken notice and they're attempting to take advantage. How successful they've been is up for debate.
Companies and trade associations are doing something a little strange: they’re buying up airtime on ESPN.
The strategist said the ads can’t be so obvious that Obama knows he’s the intended audience.
“It’s not just targeting Obama, but doing it in a way that is both interesting and will get the attention of the audience, but not so unusual that it will put the client in a bad position.”
Media strategists say ESPN is attractive to ad buyers for a number of reasons —it’s one of the last bastions of real-time TV viewing and ads can make an impression with non-ideological voters.
When a company or group is looking to make a play for viewers inside the White House, Congress or elsewhere inside the Beltway, Haynes says ESPN can be a smart play.
Political journalists, strategists and members of Congress regularly take to Twitter to sound off on the latest game or home state team.
“One of the ways that people maintain their cultural ties to their original places they are from is through sports,” Haynes said. “Sports is a cultural vehicle, I think, to maintain their ties for their home… They can’t bring the food, or their neighbors, but they can bring their sports team.”
ESPN isn’t used just to attract inside-the-Beltway viewers.
The network tried to attract more political ads in the run-up to the presidential election on college and NFL football programs. Using NCC Media, ESPN made more space available for political advertisers that would have been sold to national advertisers.
The Wesleyan Media Project tracked just over 450 ads running on ESPN and ESPN2 during the 2012 campaign, with the most on ESPN. The project, which tracks political advertising, estimated that more than $4 million was spent on the effort with the vast majority of the ads aired by the Obama campaign.