October 24th, 2008
02:07 PM ET
10 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. Evie Turner

    Why is anyone spending time and dare I say money to calculate this information and then distribute this information to the people? What could this information possibly do to help me decide who will help get this country back in good standing on foreign issues, economic stability, job security, financial security and the ability to give my family a good quality of life in what is the greatest country in the world? Please please please stop with the suppositions, probabilities, and useless comparisons. If we are constantly criticizing the candidates (McCain in particular) for negative campaigning, why on earth do we bring up issues that would only serve to stoke the fires of the bad campaigning?

    Give it a rest, we only have 11 more days before we have to elect someone to help ALL of us out of this mess. Please stick to relevant issues. Otherwise let the infamous, famous, non-existent "Joe the Plumber", who is not a plumber, who is not a business owner, who is now part of the McCain campaign trail, be a spokesperson for being a "concerned American".

    October 24, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Jack

    Obama need to spend the money to counter all the lies and distortions being thrown out there by the republicans.

    The economy is in shambles and four more years of failed republican economic trickle down theory will not work, we need change.

    The country needs a democratic sweep to right the failed economic theory of the republicans as even Alan Greenspan can't explain what went wrong with the trickle down mess. Well giving the wealthiest people in the world tax breaks and tax credits to invest in cheap labor while the rest of us go bankrupt is not a sound theory for the majority of Americans.

    October 24, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. undecided

    Let's face facts.

    Obama is buying the presidency, plain and simple.

    October 24, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. Red, Red WHINE!!

    Can you raise $600 million? If you are talented, gifted and people believe in you...yes you can. If you are McCain/Palin...No, you can't!! Because you suck and are a disgrace to the human race!

    We are the people, who paid for those ads, and we approve this message!

    October 24, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Bruce

    He has to get the truth out someway. The issues that people realy care about are addressed in his adds the tax plan the education plan the health care plan. And then he has to defend against the LIES spread by McCain and Palin.

    October 24, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Lynn

    I think the American public should be horrified by the amounts that Obama has spent. Just think of all the other uses that money could have gone for especially in this type of economic situation. I think we need to take a close look at how much should be allowed to be spent in these elections and all envolved should only be allowed a certain amount. It may help open the door for other types of candidates beside the main two political parties to be on more of even playing field. Enough is enough!!!

    October 24, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. rice, bryan

    he has to be on tv as much as he is, he has to drown out the voices of the smear campaign. let's feel sorry for mcbush, he hasn't raised as much money as obama. the gop wants to cry about the difference in money between the two campaigns. here is the simple answer, more people believe, and have given to the obama campaign. is is that hard to believe that most americans have lost faith in anything the rebulicans have to say, or do?

    October 24, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. PoliticoPundit

    He is buying White House and people are falling for it. We know that a bad product if advertized well, can be sold very well.

    He is a big spender and he will do anything to buy white house. He knows it takes time to get the details of donation money. US population 300 million and he raises $150 million in one month. That's fishy.

    Democratic party known for spending and he is carrying the batton very well. I haven't seen a single dime of that money going to Ike but to sell himself.

    October 24, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Lilly

    Meanwhile his half brother lived in a Kenyan slump.

    October 24, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Stephanie

    Obama has raised so much money because he has inspired so many people (may I say so many average Joes and Janes).

    I do think we will expect our candidates to inspire us, get us involved and ask us for support. However, you focus so much on the money being raised, but you haven't focused on the large number of volunteers. I have never seen so many volunteers (young, old, black, white, hispanic, etc..) getting together to go door to door or make phone calls.

    October 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. LarryLegend

    He raised it, he can spend it. McCain has spent a lot of money also, if he had raised more he would also spend more.

    October 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Sebastian, Baton Rouge, LA

    As usual, the ethnic minority has to do more and do it better than his majority counterpart just to be competitive, even when it is obvious to us and the world that he is the better man for the job.

    But that's okay, at least he is spending campaign contributions in a way that they American people supporting him appreciate. The objective is to win the race and set our country back on the right path–not to outfit his wife with nearly $200,000 worth of clothing the average Joe couldn't even think about affording.

    October 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Judy in NC

    Cool! I am an Obama donor and I am so pleased with the way the campaign has allocated its resources. This is the best investment I've ever made.

    October 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. jerre

    He's buying himself the presidential office. A time when we are struggling to put a roof over our heads and food on the table and this person spends like their is no limit. And he says he understands our problems..............yeah right!!

    October 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Vigla

    This will force people to think about how to truthfully run a fair campaign. Presidential nominees should have equal time on the TV and it should be free. In other words, in exchange fro an FCC license to broadcast TV, you must provide a certain amount of airtime every 4 years for Presidential ads.

    Also keep in mind that the money collected by the candidates is also diverted to get out the vote efforts and other organizational efforts.

    October 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    Whatever he's spent, it will be well worth it to have an honorable person of integrity as our President. Also it might indeed keep folks like McCain who really don't have a leg to stand on beyond 'history', a second thought before they throw their hat in the ring. Funny that the RNC had $150K to fund the wardrobes of Palin AND her family, when they can't somehow figure out a way to get John more air time. Reason? They know their dog won't hunt!

    October 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. Indiana Joe

    I ABSOLUTELY don't blame Obama's campaign for this after so many robo-calls and very negative FULL OF SMEARS, trying to link and exaggerate his relationship with "shady" people... Obama is just trying to secure this election. If THOUSANDS of his supporters gave him the money it is because they believe in your cause... WHY NOT USE THE RESOURCES FOR THE CAUSE THAT THEY BELIEVE??? Lets finish this, a get Obama elected!

    October 24, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Thinklong&hard

    This is not to poke fun at either side of this race but the thought here should not be to show how either side has spent the money but to question why would either have to spend so much money.

    IF Obama was a white candidate would he have had to spend so much on advertising?

    IF Sarah Palin was a man from Alaska running would her party have spent the money for a wardrobe upgrade?

    I am asking these questions because there is definitely a double standard and while several Amercians think that there is no racism or sexism existing my two questions make you think long and hard.

    October 24, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Scott in Atlanta

    The woman who claims to have been attacked by an Obama supporter has a backwards "B" carved on her face. Emphasis on the word "Backwards" (Kinda like an idiot trying to carve the letter "B" in their face while looking in a mirror huh???

    It sure is mighty neat for someone who was being pinned down by a black man, and carved on with a "dull" knife… She didn't try to turn her head or anything??? Or was he holding her down, both of her hands, her neck (to keep from swiveling) and her face to keep her still. He must have had 8 arms…lol

    What a farce…

    October 24, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. mel from Ohio

    AND? Is there a point to this information? If McCain could raise that kind of money then it would be o.k., right?

    October 24, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  21. Maggie VT

    Maggie, VT

    Good, glad he is. Better than spending all that money for new clothes, makeup, hair, shoes and whatever else they did

    October 24, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. Gracie

    The McCain-Palin's SENIOR staffers already see the clear writing on the wall. If, Sen. Obama wins PA or Indiana, it's OVER for the McCain camp.

    John McCain is more than likely kicking himself silly for picking Sarah Palin and hiring all those BUSH CRONIES to run his smear, fear and racial baiting campaign. When you lay with DOGS you get fleas!!!

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

    Alrighty...let's see some tears from the Republicans just because the Dems had more funding than they did for the first time in history. CRY FOR ME!!! YOUR TEARS SUSTAIN ME!!!!

    October 24, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Female voter


    October 24, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. Cathy Agu

    At least he is creatin jobs and ordinary folks are making money from it...

    Sen. McCain tell me why Palin's pregnant daughter is being paraded around?

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