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. Obama/Biden '08

    I've donated to the Obama/Biden '08 Campaign and intend to give more.
    It just goes to show how much the people really care and believe and
    want to move in a positive direction.

    October 24, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. Sarah Palin is a Lousy Mother and Grandmother to be!

    Now perhaps she can get off her self-righteous butt and take care of her children. She has a special needs son that she parades around to get lingering sympathy votes and a teenage daughter due to give birth in December. The country will be just fine in the hands of Obama/Biden so she should refocus her energy on her family. The GOP should allow her to keep the clothes as a consolation prize. She was runner-up for Ms. Alaska now she will be runner-up as V.P.

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



    October 24, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Bill

    No matter how he is packaged and how many lies are told. He is still a Socialist who hangs around terrorists, spends money from the public coffers to "spread the wealth, has less than 3 years experience in his current job and has spent the last 18 months trying to become President. He spent 20 years in a church and never seemed to hear what the preacher was saying, and still believes we can tax our way into prosperity. His supports financially has come from a convicted felon and Joe Biden has concerns about his being tested by terrorists around the world in the first 6 months of the next term. I may not like McCain as much as my first choice but he is sure a great deal better than Obama.

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

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

    October 24, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Raymond Duke

    It looks like Obama and the democrats have plenty money donors from the muslim countrys to advertise. I know it cannot be from all them welfare people and college kids who claim they cannot afford a six dollar ID Card to prove who they are. By the way democrats have you heard that Acorn lied and did not register 1.3 million new voters as reported by them and the liberal media. Only 400,000 remain on the the list with the rest being disqualified and a lot of them are being scrutinized for fradulent registers. It looked good to the media to portay them new democrats so that it would discourage republicans and indepedents from voting. By the way what do you think about that lawsuit a voter brought questioning Obama's Birth certificate. Apparently a Federal Judge issued a supeona to Hawaii for it to be made public and handed over but Hawaii does not want to comply. I figure Obama is over there trying to get a fake one. He knows with this lawsuit he cannot be sworn in as president without it if hia election is questioned. (WHOOPS) I bet he could show that Kenyan birth certificate real quick.

    October 24, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. proud army and navy mom

    Wow shocker he has bought the election.....On the bright side Obama supporters VP Palin has promised additional help for special needs kids so you will all be in good hands.


    October 24, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. SPQR

    Go, BO, Go!

    October 24, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. TONY



    October 24, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. mitch

    if he wins, it will have been well-spent. and look at all that money being injected right back into our struggling economy.

    October 24, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. Brian

    This would be a major concern for me if his money wasn't all coming from college students and other average Americans, donating an average of $86 per donation to the Obama campaign.

    The fact is that if you can rally people, lead them to believe in America again, they will provide all of the resources you need to compete.

    I think this is a heroic point in America – we have spent more money giving to Obama than McDonalds or WalMart spends trying to sell us their toxic garbage. We are buying our future by helping Obama to the White House. This is a good thing.

    October 24, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Paris

    Desperate is the one that felt it needs to spend $250 million on ads.

    Obama is so into “spreading the wealth” can you imagine how many Joe the plumber family the $250 million could have helped.

    Can you imagine how many lives could $250 million CHANGED?

    The hypocrisy of the Obama campaign is undeniable.

    October 24, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Illinois

    Let's be honest...neither McCain or Obama can get America out of this economy within four short year. The question is who has a better vision and a better reinforcement (vice prez)? Obama.

    Palin knows jack!

    October 24, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    So! Who cares about how much Obama is spending. The Republicans have such poor candidates this year, including Guilliani (especially him), Romney, Huckabee, and the Law and Order guy, no wonder they could raise enough money. Bush outspent both Gore and Kerry because of all the big oil money and even T.Boone Pickens paying for the 527 ads in 04. Now, TBoone Pickens doesn't seem to be backing anyone, but concentrating on the energy crisis.

    Obama just also seems to be running a much smarter campaign than the GOP. McCain has a new plan ever couple of days and can't seem to focus on anything but McCain First, so where do you put your money?.....in clothes and makeup of course.

    October 24, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. No Palin No Way

    Is it their fault for spending so much money? Or is it simply due to the drastic changes in how information is distributed? You have newspapers, magazines, handbills, signs, television, internet– The potential reach of the candidates has grown significantly, they'd have to spend money to properly utilize the media available to them.

    October 24, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. AL

    I'd like to see an ad asking McSame's campaign a few questions like –

    Why did you spend $150 K, tax payers money on Miss Payless's clothes and make up..

    Why did you spend that money on dressing her kids to parade around with her to every event when BO's kids are not out there on the campaign trail signing autographs..

    When is Sarah Payless going to release her medical records and what is taking so long.. Is she hiding something..

    Did the McSame camp leave their hearts behind when they hit the campaign trail? McSame camp tried to compare BO taking his camp plane to see his ill grandmother to them spending $150 K on her clothes. If the rolls were reversed, (and first of all they would not be because they BO camp is not as heartless) he would have said it is not the place for that kind of talk just like he did when he said family was off limits... I guess John McShame will stop at nothing to fill Bush's shoes.

    October 24, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Henry

    It's unfortunate but I would imagine that he would have spent less if he hadn't had to combat all the smears that the McCain campaign was throwing around. And look at what McCain is doing with his money, not talking about his platform, his policies, just a bunch of negative ads. That's not what this country needs in today's hards times. John McCain is living in a totally different world than the rest of America.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 24, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Grahame in Canada

    It's not over yet. Don't take anything for granted. Send McCain and Palin packin. We do not need them in the whole of North America never mind the USA

    October 24, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. A Well Educated Woman

    That is fantastic, I will continue to give my average $86 donation today!
    Keep up the momentum, and don't forget to VOTE!

    October 24, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Bob

    Then people wonder why he is "winning" and has so many people who know about him and his positions. If ANYONE had spent more money than McDonalds they would be as known and quite possibly as popular.

    October 24, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. Rita Montgomery, AL

    I don't even want to hear it from the Repulicans because if they raised that much money they would be taking it willingly and spending it too, as they have been for years now. Many, many republican candidates for political offices have outdone their democratice challengers because they simply have much more money to spend. People may call me a racist but I still believe that it takes several times more money and more advertising to convince many Americans to feel comfortable with having Barack Obama as president that it would any white male candidate. If that's what it takes to get his name out there and get people to get to know him and trust him than so be it, let's make history.

    October 24, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Theresa - Minneapolis

    I'm so tired of hearing about how much he spends on ads like it's a bad thing. I personally think it's a GREAT thing. Every cent he spends was donated for his campaign to spend in whatever way they see fit in order for him to win the election!

    McCain backers whine about how he's being out spent. He CHOSE his own funding route. Maybe if the Republicans were willing to put their money where their big fat mouthes are he would be doing better in the advertising area.

    October 24, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. Kathy

    I would like to know how much Obama spends for his suits please

    October 24, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |

    ?? I am one of the many internet donors, to Obama..so whats the big deal ? Just people "fed up" with old government ways trying to support Obama and a NEW way of doing things..so sorry McCain wasnt able to do that too..NOT...and every time I see another dirty swipe at Obama, I will donate more...takethat republicans..we dont want you anymore...

    October 24, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. Dave

    Apparently, it is ok to buy the presidency. This is a sad, sad day.

    October 24, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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