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A Curious Claim:

I received this in an email today from the campaign of Jerry Kilgore, who is running for VA Governor:

Senator George Allen routinely reminds us that a bumper sticker is worth $200 in free advertising or $300 if on a pick-up truck or S.U.V.

Why in the world would a bumper sticker on a "pick-up truck or S.U.V." be "worth" more in free advertising than say a mini-van or a sedan? Does it have something to do with attracting rural swing voters in Virginia to vote Republican? Or is it just some sort of joke that I don't get?

A. Guest:
Higher up / Easier to see?
8.10.2005 5:51pm
bill-10k (mail) (www):
Yeah you got to get out more. They are worth nothing but a laugh when you see them on the bumper of a Volvo.
8.10.2005 5:56pm
David [.net]:
At what point does the FEC come in? A multi-vehicle, multi-sticker household could be in trouble.
8.10.2005 6:14pm
Jack of Spades:
I know I spend way too much time staring at the back of SUVs.
8.10.2005 6:32pm
Tom Hanna (www):
It's at eye level to cars if it's on a pickup or SUV.
8.10.2005 7:11pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
David [.net]:
"At what point does the FEC come in?"

If part of the job of campaign staff volunteers is to drive from place to place, and they have their boss's bumper stickers on their vehicles, are they making some kind of donation?

What about paid staff workers? Aren't they being paid to advertise?

The FEC should really get on this, and put a stop to Bumper Sticker Abuse. I'm willing to bet that this is the #1 way candidates get around hard money donation limits--because their "volunteers" can give in-kind donations of much higher value... and it's all hidden in plain sight!

Maybe the FEC will distinguish bumper stickers from internet web sites because people have a choice whether they want to view a web site, but bumper stickers are unavoidable. Obviously, that means web sites should be subject to a higher level of scrutiny.
8.10.2005 7:24pm
AlfredHW (mail):
I think it's a joke--at least for the higher-dollar amounts. From this article:

Allen encouraged Burr supporters to put bumper stickers on their automobiles. He said a bumper sticker on a car is equivalent to $250 worth of advertising.

"On a pickup truck it's worth $500, and on an SUV it will really annoy the liberals."
8.10.2005 7:27pm
Eh Nonymous (mail) (www):
Heh, funny.

A bumper sticker is worth the paper it's written on, and more, or less. Are we talking substitution cost - the rental price of the bumper? If so, are you a bright red brand-new highly desirable-looking 2006 SUV? Or an eyesore that used to be sort of metallic gray, and has faded, and has rust spots?

The eye-level idea is interesting. I suspect your visibility, in the sense of color and driving style and make and model, are more important than mere height.

Also, why are we spending time on this throw-away idea?

Oh, right. Blogs suck the life out of us. Oh well.
8.10.2005 8:03pm
bill-10k (mail) (www):
It's the audience not the height.
8.10.2005 8:23pm
Reader:
"It's the audience not the height."

That doesn't make sense. It would make his usual follow up joke "and on an SUV it will really annoy the liberals" redundant. Give him credit for thinking of both reasons.
8.10.2005 11:17pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
At what point does the FEC come in? A multi-vehicle, multi-sticker household could be in trouble.
I laughed, and then I pondered. I forget whether the FEC counts in kind contributions toward the $200 limit to be forced to register as a political committee. Some of the state laws, such as the one Oregon passed last week, have limits as low as $50. Usually the measure would be the cost of the sticker rather than the value. It might be fun for somebody to find a pro bono firm willing to handle the reporting for a pickup truck -as- political committee. Both the FEC and state verions are chock full of unconstitutional limits on speech. Er, if I may make a plug, I am handling a case about whether a campaign that raises no funds (and thus hasn't met the $100 reporting threshold) can be fined by the state for late reports. I'm in a bit over my head and would welcome any help.
8.11.2005 3:13am
markm (mail):
It could be the height, but I think it's more a joke related to the particular audience they are trying to reach, and people's tendency to judge the driver by the car and to feel a little solidarity - or the opposite. E.g., maybe a redneck would value the opinion of someone driving a rusty pickup, and be inclined to vote the opposite of a bumper sticker on a new Volvo. Maybe surburbanites would be more impressed by bumper stickers on SUV's...
8.11.2005 1:18pm
treefroggy (mail):
Allen encouraged Burr supporters to put bumper stickers on their automobiles. He said a bumper sticker on a car is equivalent to $250 worth of advertising.

"On a pickup truck it's worth $500, and on an SUV it will really annoy the liberals."
8.11.2005 1:27pm
Abe Delnore (mail):
I took it to mean that Allen believes liberals are annoyed by SUVs to begin with, and the sight of a sticker for a Republican candidate on one will make them apoplectic.


I admit, in my case and my wife's, he's exactly right.


So:


1. Sticker on automobile is the baseline, worth $250. ("Hmm . . . Kilgore sticker on that Honda. Is he the Republican or the Democrat?)


2. Sticker on pickup is worth about twice as much because Virginia Republicans are concerned about recapturing the rural voters (pickup people) who put Warner in office. ("Hmm . . . Kilgore sticker on that F-350. Kilgore must be alright. Is he the Democrat or the Republican?)


3. Sticker on SUV is mainly worthwhile for inciting unproductive liberal rage. ("Those damn Republicans and their gas-guzzlers! Hope you're happy paying $2.50 for gas, pal! How about a real energy policy? I'm sending $100.00 to MoveOn!")


--Abe Delnore

8.11.2005 1:59pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Bumper stickers could also have a negative value for a campaign. If you cover the back of your car with bumper stickers for one campaign, and then drive in a fashion annoying to other drivers (cut people off, tailgate, change lanes in heavy traffic without signialing, etc.), you will probably irritate some people enough to vote against a candidate.

Nick
8.11.2005 2:02pm