The Washington Post and BP may seem like the oddest couple since Felix and Oscar, but they've been spending a lot of time - and money - together.
A Business & Media Institute study found that the Washington Post earned up to $455,652 on 17 BP ads during the month of June, or about $15,188.40 per day. All 17 ads were a full page in size, nine appeared on the back page, six ran in color, and three ran on Sundays. In short, that's a fairly high-end ad campaign. However, companies typically receive discounts off of the open rate for large ad buys or for long-term contracts, so that final total may well be lower.
BMI analyzed all 30 issues of the Post in the month of June and calculated the rates using the Post's 2010 General Ad Rates Position Premiums. Based on the position premiums, a back page ad costs $28,954 daily ($31,456 on Sundays), ads on pages A2, A3, and A5 cost $208 daily ($216) per column inch, and other specified pages cost $103 daily ($110) per column inch. full page ad is 6 x 21 inches or 126 inches. BP back page ads totaled $260,586 and the Sunday ads, which appeared on pages A5 and A15 respectively, totaled $103,716, with color costs included in premium pricing.
While advertising is the lifeblood for newspapers, it's ironic that the Post has earned so much money from a company it has criticized over the past month, including their most recent June 30 story about BP's corporate contributions. While reporter Carol D. Leonnig fretted about BP spending $112,000 on the national election cycle, her employer received over four times as much in one month, and BP nearly spent that much in the Sunday ads alone.
Furthermore, Leonning griped about the $4.8 million BP spent over seven years. There are 84 months in seven years, which means BP spent $57,142.86 per month in corporate contributions, nearly eight times less than what it spent in one month on Washington Post ads.
The media gleefully reported President Obama's anger at BP's new ad campaign and if BP spent this much money advertising with a conservative publication, the media may well have played the Republican-big-business-connection card.
While the Post has a history of liberal positions, including being anti-business and advocating everything from Value-Added Taxes (VAT) to gay rights and environmentalism. But when it comes to earning money, the Post is laughing all the way to the bank.