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. Betty, Virginia

    I am proud to have contributed to Obama's campaign.
    CHANGE IS COMING!!!

    What republicans aren't getting is "we the people" have spoken with our pocketbooks and "we the people" will be YELLING WITH OUR VOTES!

    October 24, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. Vic of New York

    I imagine to some the amount spent by Obama is obscene. But to me, it reflects what is needed to overcome the venmous politics of the Extremist Right.

    What makes this all the more satisfying is that the money needed to finally bring down the Republican Party was accumulated by millions of Americans making small donations. I donated and donated close to the limit – all to see this vile administration go down. ..and I would do it again.

    Long live America!

    October 24, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. Doug R.

    McCain is desperate and pathetic. Just look at him...he's miserable and frustrated. He has nothing to offer the American people except lies. No vision, no ideas, no plans. He's a zealot and a fraud.

    October 24, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. Nora Palmer

    I will bet you anything that the tables were turned; the McCain camp would be spending it also, after all they dropped 150K to dress Palin and her family.

    So I say Obama if you got it flaunt it!

    Nora Palmer

    October 24, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. Cha-ching

    Wonder where all this money is coming from during "our worst economic crisis in our lifetime." Wasn't it the Republican Party supposed to be the party of the rich???

    October 24, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  6. Bruce

    Well Mccain must be spending all he has here in PA...I am sick of the ads, that are all based on lies, and thinkging we are stupid and not informed.

    October 24, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. floridian

    What many of Sen. Obama's ardent supporters seem to be missing is the question "…is their candidate up to the challenge?" What if Sen. Biden is correct? What if a major international crisis is brought to bear? Is Sen. Obama up to the challenge? That is where EXPERIENCE is, in my opinion, critical. And, judging by Sen. Obama's lack of foreign policy knowledge/experience, statements made about who to sit down with and under what conditions, his lack of understanding of how to best use the military, and his willingness to openly commit to strategies as campaign rhetoric, he IS NOT the one to be sitting in the Oval office. Sen. Clinton had it right when she asked "…who do you want answering the 0300 phone call."

    October 24, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. PA Voter

    Obama has been brainwashing voters with all the advertising. And, his supporters criticize McCain's ad campaigns, as negative campaining and unhonorable. Double standard, no doubt. Somehow, all Obama's ads are accept able, but his supporters can't take it as they give it. If Obama is elected, I object to his spending habits...and they criticize a meager $150 on wardrobe, compared to millions to buy votes...

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. Billy

    Obama is playing it smart. Leave IT ALL on the field. Don't think there was just one more thing you could have done come Nov 4.

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. Country first

    When you go out there to vote you better pay good attention and double check your vote before you summit it. In some state if not all the republicans fix the machine up. If you vote straight democratic they fix the machine so your presidential vote go for McCain instead of Barack. So you might think you vote for Barack and the machine was fix and it goes the other way. So pay good attention to make sure your presidential vote goes to your choosing candidate. These are disgusting tactics that the republicans are using right now in some part of Texas and may be nationwide. We need fair and free election so rigging these machines is nothing but disgusting tactics. Also when you go to the polling place no political T-shirt because they will turn you away.

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. John in OR

    Senator Obama has inspired more people than ever before to contribute to a single campaign. These people expect Obama to spend their money on this campaign.

    Obama's campaign is successfully telling the honest story of the policies that his administration will enact. Obama's campaign has only critiqued McCain/Palin regarding their policy weaknesses and their lies and smear ads.

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. nowwhatdoyouwant

    And the US Presidency goes to the highest bidder...Obama! It has become all too apparent that the Liberal Media has once again sold its soul for a quick buck like the w h o r e that it is!

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Chris from San Antonio

    And I will continue to donate to keep it so.

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Potatoes

    I'd do the same if I wanted to sell snake-oil to our couch-potato nation. We're going to get what we deserve this election. I only hope that the liberal gloating dies down before Christmas.

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. johnrj08

    Why is Obama spending so many millions of dollars on ads? Pretty simple. Because he can. He was smart enough not to be tied to public campaign financing, which is woefully inadequate, and he has inspired so many voters around the country that he continues to get donations. I think, after the 2000 election and the Florida debacle, there is a lot of paranoia in the country concerning a possible theft of this election. So Obama is going for a knock-out at the polls, rather than a split decision. I can't say I blame him. The Republican machine has a long history of shenanigans at the polls and voter intimidation. Obama is wise to keep the peddle to the metal.

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. Bruce

    If some of you WANT TO BE REPUBLICANS would stop and go tot he OBama Tax calculator and let it show you how much more tax relief his plan offers you might understand how silly your comments have sounded all this time. By the way in a resession like the one we are in it sometimes is wise to spend money to get it flowing again. Famlies without money do not buy new cars, or go out to eat, or go on vacations, or buy a new computer. They need to be sure they have a JOB, and money coming in. It is wise to spend money to build roads, bridges, invest in new energy programs this gets money back in the system and flowing so th Joe's can go out and spend it and get the economy moving again.

    October 24, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Amy

    In my opinion Obama did use a form of public financing: we the public who believe in him financed his campaign.

    October 24, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. Joe

    Are John McCain and Sarah Palin deaf, stupid, or just dishonest (and I guess we can rule out deaf)? First, Joe Biden NEVER said Barack Obama was any more likely to be "tested" than John McCain. He was making that point that the NEXT President (and he feels that will be Barack Obama) will be tested. Why does the McCain campaign feel that they need to distort people's words? Is it because they don't have any messages of their own?

    Also, John McCain says that he has been "tested". I agree. He has been tested throughout this campaign and FAILED. He selected a running mate that is clearly unqualified for the job, has not had a consistent and clear plan for putting this country back on track, and has shown that he will do little to repair America's standing in the world community. While I respect his service to this country, that was over 30 years ago and nothing in his current record shows any proof that he will be able to lead in a time of crisis.

    October 24, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. Vicki

    I wish the American people would get real. All our money has already been spent. We have borrowed hundreds of billions from other countries to fight two wars, live beyond our means and now we have to pay up. This fight over who is going to raise our taxes and who is going to give tax brakes is B.S. . We have spent the money, now we have to pay up !!!!

    October 24, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Shari, NY

    I am pleased at the way the Democratic campaign has been run – economically and ethically. If this is an indication of how the US will be run under Obama's administration, what else could we ask for?
    Make no mistake, it will not be easy but I will do my part to contribute to society.

    October 24, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Alan

    Give me a break! The millions of PEOPLE who've donated to his campaign have given him that money precisely for him to do exactly what he's doing. I suppose the Republicans would have been more than happy for him to have sat back like Kerry did and do nothing while they tar and feather him with smears. Of COURSE he's had to spend so much more than other candidates. Like most minorities in this country, he had to work twice as hard to get the same recognition. Has everyone forgotten that Hillary was all but a shoe-in when the campaign started? It was only by advertising that Senator Obama was able to get his name out to the general public.

    October 24, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Common Sense

    If your gonna lie...lie all out. If people hear it enough they will fall for it. Obama knows this is the only way he can win. His ludicrous agenda against McCains will not fly by itself. He's gotta get it to every trailer park and low rent apartment complex he can.

    October 24, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. John Driscoll

    You can do that when you have the financial support of THE PEOPLE behind you!

    October 24, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. Rob

    Can you say election bought and paid for by who knows. Kinda scary if you ask me.

    October 24, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. SH

    Those millions are donated by people like ME who want him to spend it on his campaign to counter all the LIES MCCAIN has been spreading.

    October 24, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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