TV ads in West Palm Beach aim for an audience of one

Do Mar-a-Lago guests get special access to Trump?
Do Mar-a-Lago guests get special access to Trump?

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Do Mar-a-Lago guests get special access to Trump? 03:33

Story highlights

  • Outside pressure groups are flocking to the West Palm Beach media market for narrow, cheap TV campaigns
  • "We know he watches a lot of TV," said Karin Roland, who leads the political work for UltraViolet

Washington (CNN)When President Donald Trump decamps from dreary Washington and jets off for an opulent weekend at Mar-a-Lago, he brings the city's advertisers with him.

Washington has long been home to cable television spots crafted for solely the city's influencers. With very little money, an outside group can create the impression in the minds of political powerbrokers that they are running an advertising campaign from coast to coast.
That mirage apparently plays just as well in the Florida sun, too.
    Outside pressure groups are flocking to the West Palm Beach media market for narrow, cheap television campaigns on weekends when Trump calls it home. The budgets are small, but the buys are a reminder of the unusual efforts being undertaken just to convince one particularly avid television watcher.
    When he's back up the north, the ads vanish.
    When Trump touches down at his resort on Friday, he can catch both anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List on Fox News or MSNBC, or then switch over to broadcast to hear abortion rights advocates Cancer Survivors for Planned Parenthood make the exact opposite argument, according to buy contracts seen by CNN.
    For just a few nickels -- Planned Parenthood's buy there is a grand total of $675 -- you may earn a valuable audience of one.
    "We know he watches a lot of TV," said Karin Roland, who leads the political work for UltraViolet, a liberal advocacy group drawn to the same tactic. "We definitely want Donald Trump to see this ad."
    So two weekends ago, during Trump's last trip to Florida, the group put $2,050 on West Palm Beach NBC affiliate, WPTV, as part of a weekend buy that included a Trump favorite: "Saturday Night Live."
    Advertisers argue that given Trump's voracious media appetite, the buys have a chance of succeeding. And for a cash-strapped group itching to influence policy, a few weekend cable ads are far more cost-effective than the salaries for a suite of lobbyists.
    Television stations in the area say they haven't noticed an uptick in their bank accounts. But the buys are encouraging a tit-for-tat war for the mind of the President, not dissimilar from the squabbles that might unfold in the Oval Office.
    So after Planned Parenthood began its minor buy, Susan B. Anthony List responded to the tune of $18,258.
    "This is the place where they've decided to have the argument," said Mallory Quigley, the group's spokeswoman, "and we're going to meet them there."