Brussels ticket dearest for Tunne Kelam

Tuuli Koch
, reporter
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Photo: PP

EU elections heaviest advertiser was IRL with a TV campaign lasting a whopping eight weeks – remarkable even with Riigikogu elections, to say nothing about running for MEP. 

Final elections sums won’t be reckoned by parties till after Midsummer Day; even so, purely by advertisements landscape IRL paid the most money sending their top candidate Tunne Kelam back to Brussels. 

Of course, TV ads do occasionally come at 70 to 80 percent discounts and IRL might have gotten a super deal to air its ads over ten channels: Fox, Fox Life, Kanal 11, Kanal 12, Kanal 2 (heftiest input), National Geographic, Sony Entertainment TV, Sony Turbo, TV 3, and TV 6. Centre Party did ads in 11 channels, but just for four weeks. Soc dems (SDE) and Reform Party opted for five channels and also four weeks.

Thereby, IRL spent the most in TV, exceeding both Reform and soc dems almost by half. In Internet also, IRL was the most active. 

Centre Party digs in city coffers

According to IRL secretary general Tiit Riisalo, they’ll have the sums added up next week. As assessed by him, the campaign might have cost €300,000–400,000.

Why did IRL do TV so long? Was this strategic, or just a good bargain?

«Both,» said Mr Riisalo. «Without much competition, we got reasonable prices. And judging by the overall political situation at the time, we thought it was right to be on the air longer than the others. At the time, the backdrop was very muddy for us.»

Centre Party’s ad volume is always hard to compare with other parties, as the question always arises if the party and Tallinn share the same purse in campaign times. In TV, Estonia’s capital increases its advertisement volume exactly a month before elections – and thus for several election cycles already. Adding up Centre Party and Tallinn ads, this was the topmost TV campaign.  

At initial estimates, Centre Party used up €200,000 of party money, to which candidates added €50,000 i.e. €250,000 altogether.

Reform Party’s initial assessment of direct campaign costs id €350,000–400,000. The squirrels were the only party not doing the classical outdoor campaign, but the sum mentioned does include the «introduction campaign» for fresh Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas right after he entered office.

In 2009, EU campaign cost Reform Party 5.1 million Estonian kroons (€320,000).

What about others?

On purpose, squirrels did their campaign short and strong. TV ads were featured for the first four weeks, with the greatest emphasis on week one and with renewed vigour since pre-elections.

SDE had €300,000 set aside for EU campaign and according to secretary general Indrek Saar they stayed within the limits. Of said sum, €125,000 went straight to media; the rest of the euros paid for production of clips, transport and handouts. Soc dems outdoor ads went on for two weeks.

«We do not know exactly how much the competitors spent, but at initial estimates IRL poured thrice the money into media and got exactly the same result as we did. I think we have spent our money very prudently,» thinks Mr Saar.

SDE and Centre Party did a considerable amount of advertising in Russian language channels; Reform Party and IRL did not directly invest in the Russian voter.

Before elections, IRL, Centre Party and SDE all announced their hopes of getting two seats and the intention to spend €200,000–300,000 on campaigns. Reform Party desired not to predict number of mandates in run-up to elections. But all parties admitted during campaigns that the final costs were hard to foresee, as they had to act dynamic according to what the others would do.

Media costs

TV ad proportions in April/May:

•    IRL – 32%

•    Centre Party – 18% (+ Tallinn’s channels 18%)

•    Soc dems – 16%

•    Reform Party – 15%

•    Conservative People’s Party – 1%

Source: TNS Emor ad costs database