MIAMI — In the race to the White House, some of the biggest advertising money is not yet being spent attacking across party lines. Instead, it is Republicans who are getting out their wallet to stop Donald Trump.

As CNN recently reported, ahead of the recent Super Tuesday, Republican groups supporting rivals spent heavily on TV attack ads to stop Trump’s runaway train, spending an estimated $5.9m in airplay for just a single day.

But that is a waste, according to one advertising expert.

“He built his brand using television,” says Publicis’ chief strategist Rishad Tobaccowala, in this video interview with Beet.TV. “Now he uses free media, controversy and Twitter to spread his brand. Television advertising against him doesn’t work – he can overwhelm it.

“Most importantly, the messages don’t work. In Florida, I believe The Republican anti-Trump advertising helped them because it verified that ‘these people want to stop me’ but ‘they cannot control me’.”

Trump only bought his first TV ad in January, six months in to his campaign, having up-ended the usual campaign tactic, in which attention is bought via television, in favor of causing uproar using speeches that reverberate around television newscasts and social media, for free.

About his strategic addition, Trump had said: “Honestly, I feel guilty. All these people are spending all this money on ads. We have spent the least amount of money. I am very proud of this ad. I don’t know if I need it, but I don’t want to take any chances.”

So, does Trump’s success suggest TV ads are useless? Not quite. Trump may be benefitting from reams of coverage earned for free but Tobaccowala says any campaign – for brands or politicians – benefits from using both free and paid media.


This video was recorded at the 4A’s Transformation conference in Miami.   For additional interviews, please visit this page. Beet.TV’s coverage of the 4A’s was sponsored by The Trade Desk.