DEAN CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF FIVE-STATE AD PUSH

$1 Million Media Buy for 30-Second Spot

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, leading the Democratic pack of presidential candidates, is spending an estimated $1 million to buy advertising in five states 15 months before the 2004 election.

Two-week push
In the single 30-second ad due to air for two weeks, Mr. Dean is shown discussing health care for seniors and the need to end the Bush administration's tax cuts for failing to revive the economy. The spot is being produced by Trippi McMahon Squier, a political consultant in Alexandria, Va.

The ad will air in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin. The campaign did not have a transcript immediately available.

Tricia Enright, Mr. Dean's campaign communications director, said the campaign decided to buy time this early because "we really believe this is a 50-state campaign and the only way to beat George Bush is to be aggressive. We have run the first 50 miles in a sprint and the only way to continue to be aggressive."

Federal matching funds
While the early ad buy could give Mr. Dean an advantage, it also poses some risk if, as expected, the campaign accepts federal matching money. One of the conditions of the federal match is that candidates accept limits on the total amount of money that can be spent during the primary season. Candidates who spend now will have less to spend in the month or two before next year's primaries.

Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNS/MI's Campaign Media Analysis Group, said that together with earlier Dean buys in New Hampshire, Iowa and Texas, this latest ad push represents a shrewd attempt to expand media coverage and fund-raising.

Calif. governor's race
"His earlier decision to spend $120,000 on an Austin [Texas] spot got him full coverage on Meet The Press. By going up with this early buy, he is moving to become a national candidate," Mr. Tracey said. "At a time when there is a virtual blackout on media coverage for the race because of [the] California governor's race, the buy could help his fund-raising more than anything else and help him get attention."

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