Economies Of Scale And HB 2 Political Ads
Economies of scale is a term well known in the business world. It means a way of saving money if you buy in bulk or better use what you already have.
It’s also a factor in politics.
And may be behind all the attention given two campaign messages sent out by conservatives this week about HB 2.
The first message came in the mail. Sent out to voters in Wake County by Republican Representative Chris Malone.
The content alone would have made news. “HB 2 is costing Wake County and North Carolina too much,” Malone wrote, adding “I call for a full repeal of HB 2 now. I also support adding anti-discrimination language to state law.”
With that Malone became the sixth Republican lawmaker to call for repeal.
But what really got people’s attention was the fact that printed on the mailer was the phrase “Paid for by the North Carolina Republican Party.”
"Down in the polls, NCGOP calls for HB2 repeal to save vulnerable Republicans," read a statement quickly sent out by The North Carolina Democratic Party.
But that’s not the reason the NCGOP paid for the anti-HB 2 mailer.
Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse told the News and Observer, who first reported the story, the mailer was designed by the Malone campaign. Meaning it’s the candidate’s position but not the party’s.
And it’s common for political parties to pay for candidate mailers because it’s cheaper since they can get better rates by both printing and mailing in bulk.
The second message is an online video announced with a press release. “Thanks to your support and donations, we have put together an incredibly powerful new ad,” wrote Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of NC Values Coalition, an ardent supporter of HB 2.
But calling the video new is a stretch.
Here’s how it begins, a female narrator asks, "Roy Cooper’s bathroom plan. What does it mean to you? Any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day."
Now that sounds an awful lot like an ad created by a group in Houston just before the city referendum on expanding LGBT protections.
Here’s how it begins, a female narrator asks, "Houston’s Proposition 1 bathroom ordinance. What does it mean to you? Any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day."
Visually, the ads are identical, save the words printed on the screen at the very beginning.
It also bears a striking resemblance to this video against retailer Target.
Here’s how that ad begins, a female narrator asks, "Target’s new bathroom policy. What does it mean to you? Any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day."
Repurposing and reusing ads is a tactic that both political candidates and outside groups use a lot, regardless of party affiliation. It’s cheaper. Simply economies of scale at work.