Dec 17, 2019

Business-backed trade groups lead USMCA ad spending

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Data: Advertising Analytics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The top groups that ran ads for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) cumulatively spent over $4 million pushing the passage of the trade pact, data from advertising research firm Advertising Analytics shows.

Why it matters: The majority of advertisers for USMCA-specific ads were business-backed trade groups — a nod to big corporations' anxiety to draw attention to the issue.

The big picture: While the stock market hasn't paid nearly as much attention to the deal as it has to the U.S.-China trade war, businesses have voiced concern about uncertainty caused by USMCA's stalled progress. They upped spending on lobbying, too.

  • Even the Fed noted progress on the deal was good for the economy.
  • Business groups have since expressed dissatisfaction over changes to the deal. In fact, the "Pass the USMCA Coalition" has since said it "has no position on USMCA as it is written now," per The Hill.

Where it stands: The trade deal is expected to pass with bipartisan support when the House votes on Thursday.

Details: 55% of ad spending on this issue has been on TV, with 16% on both digital and radio and 12% on broadcast.

  • Washington D.C. and New York City were the top markets for these ads, but the groups also targeted Iowa, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Between the lines: Business groups have also doled out advertising dollars to push messaging on the U.S.-China trade war.

  • One example: Farmers for Free Trade, which, ran a $2.5M anti-tariff campaign television campaign last year, as Politico reported.

Our thought bubble: This type of issue advertising is typical around international trade disputes like this. Groups spent millions of dollars in messaging around the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2015 leading up to its passage in 2016.

Go deeper: Business groups express growing dissatisfaction with USMCA compromise

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Why it matters: The House overwhelmingly passed the USMCA on Thursday after Democrats secured certain labor provisions. Passing the deal is one of Trump's top policy goals of 2019 and is tailor-made for protectionist Democrats, but Sanders — who has long opposed free trade agreements — still plans to vote against it when it reaches the Senate.

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