Elections

Hillary Clinton Capitalizes On Hurricane Matthew, Buys Ads On Weather Channel

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

Hillary Clinton hopes to capitalize on Hurricane Matthew, the Category 4 storm that threatens death and destruction in Florida and up the Eastern seaboard, with campaign ad buys on the Weather Channel.

Politico reports that the Clinton campaign has purchased $63,000 worth of ads on the go-to weather station slated to run over the course of five days in the Florida market.

Update: The Clinton campaign announced that it was delaying its Florida ad buy. “We have requested that stations in Florida delay any of those ads on the Weather Channel until after the storm passes,” Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement. The original story continues below. 

The purchase ensures that as Floridians are hunkering down in preparation for the tempest, they are likely to catch Clinton’s campaign pitch.

During Hurricane Sandy, which trolled the Atlantic coast for more than a week in late October 2012, the Weather Channel scored an audience of 2.04 million viewers in the 25-54 year-old target demographic, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That number, which was the channel’s third-highest viewership at the time, beat out ratings monster Fox News.

During the active hurricane season of 2004, when Hurricanes Ivan, Frances and Charley struck Florida, the channel saw its ratings increase 43 percent over the previous year.

Matthew, which has left at least 35 people dead in Haiti, is expected to hit the Atlantic side of Florida late Thursday or early Friday. Forecasters expect that it will roll up the Atlantic coast through the weekend. Politico notes that Clinton has also purchased ad spots in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, two other swing states which may end up in Matthew’s path.

The Clinton campaign defended the battleground state ad buy in a statement to Politico.

“Over the past few days, our campaign made millions of dollars of adjustments and refinements to our TV buys on dozens of different cable stations in markets all across the battleground states,” Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson told the website.

“The Weather Channel represented less than one percent of that spending. These shifts were part of our regular updates to maximize efficiency, effectiveness and reach of our ad buy.”

Other political operatives questioned the Clinton campaign’s decision, saying it could backfire.

As Fox News noted, former Jeb Bush press secretary Kristy Campbell said the purchase was “insensitive and will piss off Floridians.”

Follow Chuck on Twitter