Obama, McCain Now Battling On MTV, Comedy Central

Last month Viacom said MTV was reversing a 27-year-old policy of not accepting political ads — a reasonable move, since the company is expecting pretty weak advertising growth in Q2 of 3% to 4%. At the time, MTV said political advertisements would be limited to the campaigns and political parties themselves, and not independent groups.

That was last month. The NY Times notes that MTV and Comedy Central are running a pro-Obama ad from MoveOn.org starring Amber Benson of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame. The ad is a response to another recent ad on MTV attacking Obama from another independent group, Let Freedom Ring.

The ad is also running on Viacom’s Comedy Central, which hasn’t had a political ad ban. But it is the first political ad to run on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.” Total haul for Philippe Dauman’s company? $150,000 for a one-week run.

Political dollars won’t do much for Viacom’s Q2, which it reports this afternoon. But Pali Research Analyst Rich Greenfield thinks the ads are a good sign for Q3, as the races ramp up.

While we expect advertising growth to slow across the cable network industry in calendar Q3, the first time acceptance of political advertising by MTV Networks could help growth in the back half of 2008, with both political camps trying to reach MTV’s core (younger) demos.

Both ads are battling it out on YouTube as well (and posted below), but Dauman would just as soon see the campaigns, and their surrogates, fight for the youth vote on Viacom’s air. The danger: desperate for cash, Viacom starts accepting some of the crass political advertising that turns young people off, and they start turning off Viacom.

“It Could Happen To You” — MoveOn ad running on Comedy Central

“Both Ways Barack” — Let Freedom Ring ad that ran on MTV

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