Republicans' Betamax Media Strategy
By Michael D. Shear
It's a given that the Republicans are struggling to keep up with the fundraising prowess of Sen. Barack Obama.
So why would a unit of the RNC decide that it's cost effective to mail this reporter copies of its 30-second ads on physical video tapes?
Every week, the ads come, inserted into grey-colored cases and nicely labeled and stuffed into a large white envelope that is mailed to my office at The Post in Washington, D.C.
The ads, which are freely available on YouTube, are most likely aimed at television stations, which might have reason to air a broadcast-quality version.
But this reporter writes for a print and online newspaper, which has no need of that kind of tape.
Nonetheless, today I was curious to compare how the studio-quality ads might compare to their Internet cousins.
When I opened the cases, I discovered that was not to be.
The ads are recorded on Betamax tapes.
Betamax is the video recording technology that lost the videotape format wars of the 1970s to VHS, more than a decade before the advent of DVDs.
Brad Todd, who runs On Message Inc., and is directing the independent expenditure arm of the RNC, said the tapes are aimed at "DC-based broadcast/online bureaus" and was probably sent to me by mistake.
"They always want air-quality copy. Sending proactively saves them and us a phone call. At some point, we must have had a request from your online division? Or just a clerical error?" he said.
But Todd had a suggestion.
"Look at it one of two ways -- you're either the luckiest collector of political memorabilia in America or The Post has some free Beta tapes you can hawk on eBay to bargain hunting producers," Todd said. "After all, times are tough in the newspaper biz. Every little bit of revenue helps, right?"
Posted at 7:06 PM ET on Oct 20, 2008
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