October 24th, 2008
02:07 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama spending more on ads than all but AT&T and Verizon

 Obama's campaign has spent $250 million on ads in the past four months.
Obama's campaign has spent $250 million on ads in the past four months.

(CNN) – Presidential candidates are sold in much the same way a new product is: with an expensive, flashy, and ubiquitous television campaign.

And according to advertising figures provided by Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on ad spending, Barack Obama's campaign has spent more money selling its candidate on television than most major brand name companies do selling their products.

The Illinois senator's campaign is projected to have spent $250 million on ads in the last four months - a number that is equivalent to $750 million in a full year. Only AT&T, with a yearly advertising budget of about $1.3 billion, and Verizon, which shells out $950 million a year on ads, spends more than the Democratic presidential nominee.

But most major companies spend far less than Obama, including McDonald’s ($588 million), Sprint PCS ($482 million), T-Mobile ($404 million), Target ($388 million), and Wal-Mart ($335 million).

John McCain is projected to have spent about $110 million since the general election began.

"This advertising spending by Obama is big, and not just in terms of presidential politics but in terms of all commercial advertising – he has spent enough to be a mega-brand," CMAG's Evan Tracey said.

Obama's massive advertising budget is also a stark reminder of just how much it costs to finance a modern presidential campaign — and, predicts Tracey, it could just end the era of public financing.

"If Obama wins it is clear that the days of being on public financing are over and anyone thinking of running for president in four years will have to ask themselves one question before jumping in – Can I raise $600 million?" said Tracey.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (318 Responses)
  1. BT

    It is a sad commentary on our society when a candidate has to spend millions of dollars to get elected, that we have hungy children and homeless families on the streets of America, that so many Americans can't get BASIC health care, and the list goes on!

    It's just another sad commentary on how BROKEN our government and country is.

    We need unity – not division.
    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 24, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Jason

    Sadly, much of America gets it's information from either ads on TV or the internet.

    You are observing the outright purchase of the 'presidency' by the Obama campaign.

    Good-bye U.S.A.

    October 24, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. MEME

    Everyone knows that in order for a black person to be recognized he/she has to give 200%, everyone else gives 100% or less. Obama has to do double duty in everything he sets out to do in order for him to be successful. I think Alexander Mooney is pulling at straws to find something negative to say about Obama.

    Obama "08

    October 24, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. some dude

    McCain's campaign has spent more on Sarah Palin's wardrobe and makeup than on ads...

    October 24, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. THE END OF AMERICA by OBAMA

    Don't worry about such things.
    If obama is able to lie and steal this election you can be sure he will do it again in 4 years.
    After 8 years he will lie and steal the election for his wife.
    After her 8 years he will lie and steal the election for anyone he wants in office.
    You see, this situation is going to be never ending. We in the southern states learned along time ago that when they get their hands on one of your cities, you are never able to get them out of office again. That's why Atlanta belongs to them today.
    I don't understand how 50% of the country can be so stupid as to put this scum in office.

    October 24, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Laverne

    You Republicans are sooo jealous! When the shoe was on the other foot as Repubs always have a financial advantage over Dems in presidential elections all was good, but now that Obama has out spent, out witted and out lasted his opponents there seems to be a problem. Double standard comes to my mind. Go Obama Go!

    October 24, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. Gene

    Obama received campaign contributions from millions of Americans, and those contributions have to be used for the campaign.. he's not allowed to pocket the money. So, of course he's spending all that money on advertising.

    October 24, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. THE WATCHER

    What about the witchdoctor that exercised the snake demon out of Pailin? Pastor Muthee? Please stay fair and balanced. I'm watching....

    October 24, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Not STACIE

    Stacie, was your comment a joke? Because last time I checked, CNN is a liberal news source. They do more Obama supporting than McCain supporting, so your comment makes ZERO sense.

    Liberals need to wake up and realize that, yes, Obama may have a lot of good qualities. BUT HE'S NOT SOME PERFECT GOD. He is spending more than an unprecedented amount of money to advertise during his campaign, and where does it come from.....?

    For reference, I'm a liberal-leaning moderate

    October 24, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. pilotlight

    Stacie, are you kidding??? CNN Is all about Obama.

    October 24, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. KMT

    folks – we the people ARE the public financing for Obama's campaign – in contributions of support – not general revenue TAX dollars. HIS is truly legitimate public financing........the money we've sent in is because we support HIM – not just the government alloting our tax dollars to someone whom we do not support. This IS the better way and too bad for the boo-hooing republicans.......you are the richer folks, so why haven't you all coughed up the dough – huh?

    Obama 08/12

    October 24, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Bruce, Chicago

    "anyone thinking of running for president in four years will have to ask themselves one question before jumping in – Can I raise $600 million?"
    I don't care what party you are affiliated with, that is obscene and very, very wrong. What a waste. We're not trying to decide what kind of beer we want, this is a Presidential election! Public financing rules were set up with good intentions, this is proof it needs to be mandatory, not a choice. $600M. I'm sick thinking about where that money could have gone for better use.

    October 24, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. CitizenAJ

    Hey KC,

    He is spending the money because America's fate is at stake. The republicans have DONE THEIR BEST to ruin the country. I hope he spends EVEN more, I will send him money. I don't want a gimmick VP, a President that DOES NOT SUPPORT VETERANS, a President that wins by calling fellow Americans "unpatriotic", a President that stirs those same foolish idealologies in his/her supporters, a President who IS CLUELESS on the economy, a President that receives economic advice from Phil "The Deregulator" Graham, a President who is supported by Lindsay Graham, and a President who is republican!

    So spend Obama/Biden, get the word out, tell the truth, fight against the republican/GOP slander machine.

    October 24, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Enough from Dallas, Texas

    KC, Bush and wall street is already "spending your money"! We don't need another republican idiotic moron in the White House. The main reason Obama has so much money to spend on these ads is becsuae he has so many many many more supporters who are seiously backing his campaign! McCain not so much...his campaign is on its last leg...he is dying...it is too late for McCain, Palin, Rick Davis, Tucker Bounds and there disgusting sleazy Karl Rove campaign! It is about time we get these types of lying repugs. out of the white House...that would truly be a "breath of fresh air"!

    October 24, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Waiting for 11/5

    That's what his million plus of donors have given him money to do – to advertise. I don't see how else he is supposed to reach all of America. There's no possible way to sit down and have a conversation with every person in this country. I donated a modest amount, but I expected every cent to be used towards him winning this election. If that means ads, if that means billboards, if that means paying his staff – I wanted my money to be used for this, and I suspect the rest of his of donors would agree.

    October 24, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. wethepeople

    Everytime Palin says something stupid (which is pretty often) or McCain tells another lie....we donate to Obama!! That's where all the money comes from :).

    October 24, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Sammy

    Obama has to spend millions in ads in order to be competitive. Unlike McCain, he came in as the unknown and he somehow had to make himself known.... How difficult is this to figure out?

    October 24, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Sean Chong

    He got donations from common working folks, and some rich folks, like myself. He can spent it on anything he wants, cos that's our money. We have no complaints. Sarah Palin can spend any amount of money she wants on her clothes, I don't care, cos that's not my money. Looking good is one thing, Mccain said Obama wants to look good.... well, so what? Michelle Obama is more down to earth, she doesn't wear so much make-up, she's "raw" and I like that! She's more like my wife, who is plain and simple, yet sophisticated on the inside. Michelle will become a great First Lady, she has my vote, because I don't want my President to look bad outside of MY COUNTRY! She doesn't need make up or any nice clothes, because she has the brain!

    October 24, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Moxie

    Why don't my comments ever get out of moderation?

    October 24, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Mickie in PA

    Let's not pretend that Sen. Obama would have stood a chance to get his message out to these die hard republican voters if he could not spend as much as he has. First of all, he is not near as wealthy as McCain vis a vis Cindy and he does not have near the fear-mongering, arm-twisting "Rovian" power players like McCain. After all, isn't that why McCain is pandering to all the Carl Rove directives so that he can get money from the neocons and have the GOP spend the money (i.e., the fashion show of $150,000+ that Sarah Baraclueless wears). If Sen. Obama was restricted to the federal funds, he would have been burried by the McCain/Palin "terrorist" mud by now. I hope he keeps spending because the GOP will and the media is owned by the GOP so they don't press either McCain or Palin for hard answers.

    October 24, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Don

    McCain attack on Bidens comment about being tested in the first six months in office is a joke, his buddy leberman say the same thing and you don't hear to much about it.

    October 24, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. fat john

    whoever has the most money wins !!!!

    October 24, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. KMC

    KC – Would you like to rethink the comment about "spend, spend, spend' for Obama? At least you would benefit from the programs he would implement and NOT a wardrobe - why didn't they put some of that money towards advertising? it's all about choices and it just goes to show you where their priorities are.......

    GO OBAMA~!!

    October 24, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Republican for Obama

    Just because the shoe is on the other foot don't complain. When the Republicans have always had more money for campaigns no one was standing up to say it wasn't fair. The fact is that a huge number of people in this country donated to see the best candidate win for a change. You can blame these large donations of cash on Bush!

    October 24, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Geo Joe in ABQ

    Tricky math here, something you'd expect from McCain. $250 million in 4 months does not equal $750 million in a year because the Obama campaign hasn't been spending at that rate all year. Like a retailer spending $100 million the month before Christmas and saying that's a $1.2 billion annual advertising budget!

    Anywho, Obama has already saved the taxpayers $84 million by not taking public financing.

    October 24, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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