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. Denise Colorado

    And to think the American people are financing it and not lobbyists. That's the way it should be done. Now we have a stake in this election.

    October 24, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. For Obama

    That is Obama's first reform. If you want to be elected by the people get the support of the people. Let the people build the government they want not some one with lots of money pushing it down their throat.

    I would also like to add that after this election anyone thinking of running for president in four years will have to ask if they have the ablility to run a clean campaign and give strengh and hope to the nation and inspire it from bottom up approach.

    With Obama as President I see a Glorious future for our country.

    October 24, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. CR

    This is why we donated to him - so he could win. Get a clue CNN. This is a people-powered campaign and we support it.

    October 24, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. jim

    it takes a lot of money to defeat a group of weathy war profiteers. i'm proud to have been sending obama money for a year and a half.

    October 24, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. republican for obama

    I'm a Republican, but this year I'm going to have to vote Democratic. I think Barack Obama can bring the kind of unity we need in this country. It's sad he has to spend so much on advertising, but if it works, it work.

    October 24, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    The power of the people and all of our donations.
    As a good steward (like he will be as President), he's shown he is wise in terms of how he manages money. No deficits on this train.

    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. TONY





    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. J

    I am not certain what the point is of this report by CNN. Obama has managed to raise as much money as he has because of his positive message, compelling personal story, his expressed concern for the average American, his eloquence, his intelligence, and stated agenda of putting America back on track economically and repairing the damage perpetuated by the Republican Party on America's image abroad. But for these things, Obama would be in the same boat McCain is currently in concerning the presidential race – specifically, up the creek without a paddle.

    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Fed up with politics

    It's a certain disappointment that it costs so much to be President of the United States anymore. I vote we go back to the old days before there was television and see how the electoral process is run. No internet rumors. No "robo-calls". No television "smears" and right-wing or left-wing news broadcasts and commentary. Let's see the heart of the candidates as they were meant to be seen: In a cross-country speech platform. I bet we'll see a heck of a lot more issues being discussed, less slander, and we'll be presented with better candidates to choose from.

    But that will never happen.

    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Amy

    I am proud to say that I voted for Obama today!

    Get out and vote early, everyone!

    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Chris from STL

    As long as large amounts are not coming from large corporations and PACs, I'm for Obama's strategy of private financing. Fed could use the 170 millions on something else ...

    In fact, I just donated $30 to Obama campaign ... The reason – I just heard Tucker Bounds on CNN telling the anchor, "the purpose of McCain's negative ads is to create FEAR among voters" .... This is not right. It takes a lot of positive ads from Obama to counteract a single negative ad.

    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Jason

    Obama is still using the Public Finance System, just in a different way. He's received small donations from over 4 million people and NO CORPORATION MONEY OR PACs. The public is financing his campaign.

    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    I don't know why the media is so concerned with Obama's ad spending. I completely agree with the frequency and intensity of Obama's ad spending. Obama has to make the case to the American public that we can trust him and that we can be comfortable with his leadership. Obama has the money from donation (not taxpayers) so why not out spend his opponent on ads and make McCain compete in some of the red states that he is taking for granted.

    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |

    CNN SO WHAT? Is this really news… Obama spending more, what is becoming of CNN and their senseless stories that make news? Do you realize we are headed in a recession? Obama out smarted McCain and now he's mad.

    BOO WOO! We have bigger fish to fry than how much Obama is spending… Give me a break! At least it's on campaign ads and not of a wardrobe and traveling for the kids…

    Give me a break!

    October 24, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Shannon

    Americans are angry and scared right now. I see my coworkers having heated arguments, and I'm sick of it. I have always been a registered democrat and have always voted within my party. However, this election I just can not vote for Obama/Biden. Heck, I only voted for Kerry because he wasn't Bush. Give me a break, America! Stop with the whining about McCain being racist. Obama has made a point of playing the race card, and McCain until recently has walked around on egg shells. I'm glad to see McCain grow his pair back, and I will be voting for him and Palin come November 4th. Whatever you do, democrat or republican, don't believe for a minute that it isn't worth voting for since Obama will win anyway. Remember: Obama just spent a lot more money on campaigning than McCain. I'm sick of every time I open my home page I see Obama's face. Sick,sick,sick!!! That's what is shameful. Enough already.


    P.S. My friend, John McCain, I hope to see you next week in Fayetteville. We want to give you a good, old fashioned NC welcome and thumbs up!

    October 24, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. Commonwealth of Virginia

    It's an air and ground war and we're winning both. I htought McCain was the soldier. HA!!


    October 24, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Jean

    Obama's spending is proof you can buy the election.

    October 24, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. rob

    Remember when Obama promised to take public financing alone? Yeah, who cares as long as he wins, thats the attitude of the MSM. This election coverage has been a sham from the beginning if McCain flipped on this and out spent Obama 4 to 1 the cry form the Dems and the MSM outlets would be he bought the election, how unfair, how greedy, how corrupt, etc. etc. etc.

    I hope McCain pulls this out because after the riots in the streets the liberal MSM will have to deal with the realization that their influence is sinking more and more.

    October 24, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. carol

    This just goes to show what a fabulously organized campaign Sen Obama has run from the start......and folks keep saying he's not ready.....not a leader......PLEASE!!!!!!
    McCain has run such a negative and nasty campaign and wonders why folks are leaving his sinking ship in droves......no honour there McCain and I doubt you'll leave this campaign with a shred of dignity!!
    Sarah Palin has been USED in this campaign as well, but that was her choice.....she will also have to live with herself after this.

    October 24, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Rusty

    $100 of it is from my wife and me - first-time donors. I feel it is money well spent. And I have been a life-long Republican.

    October 24, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. you too can buy an election

    Obama is buying the Whitehouse and it is sick...

    The only reason that 95% + of people benifit from Obama's plan is because over 35% do not pay taxes and will get a free check for doing nothing. So he is in essence buying the presidency by getting all these people to vote in order to get the free money.

    It is a smart winning strategy, however it is not right and I am shocked not 1 person in the media is calling him out on it (that I have heard of anyway)

    October 24, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Desmond Sequeira

    And my response is: So what? Further, he clearly needs to spend the money to counter the sheer SLIME of the F A I L I N/McSAME campaign.
    Further still, he is getting much of his money from very ordinary people like me who cannot afford some basics but who can afford to have SLIME in the White House even less. Further still, remember, his is a limited time spending, to end around 4 November. Greedy corporations do this year in and year out

    October 24, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. donna smith

    Advertise baby Advertise. We gave you the money to win. Now lets win.

    October 24, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |


    October 24, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. Susan

    I never thought we would see the day when a candidate could BUY the presidency. Obama has raided the coffers of the American people at a vulnerable period in our history. And he and his wife beg for more! How much is TOO MUCH! Also, don't talk to me about Palin's $$ spent on clothing. Look at the dollars spent on Obama and his team. Unprecedented. And we are the fools.

    October 24, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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