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. the other jd

    glad to see my donations being put to good use!

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

    Soooo if thousands donate to your campaign, are you supposed to not use it in your campaign, for electing the president they want? Shoukd he just keep it? They should ask Obama donors (most of them average Americans, not like McCain full of money donated by lobbies and especial interest groups) if the money shouldn't be used to for the campaign. If McCain's campaign would have more resources than Obama then they wouldn't be whining so much... they are jealous, like sore-losers jealous. Go OBAMA/BIDEN!

    October 24, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Florida Dem

    That's power FROM the people. It's not magic that McCain hasn't raised nearly as much, and though it was mishandled it shows Obama obviously knew what he was doing neglecting public financing, seems to be working in his favor.

    October 24, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. Charlie Bradley

    Yes Abby I just saw that on CNN TV as I was reading the ticker here. Good Job Johnny boy, now your supporters are sinking to your level. People of the lowest denominator often gravitate toward people of the lowest common denominator 🙂

    October 24, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. D&D

    What would you expect? It's the most talk-about US election ever...so everything has to exceed expectations!

    October 24, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. sandee in Portland

    @KC....."Millions of dollars to lie. Wow! Incredible in these very low times."

    The money Obama is spending has been provided by people like myself who contribute to his campaign. He is not spending the taxpayer's money like McCain. So he has the right to spend it any way he sees fit.

    On the other hand, "Spend, spend, spend". Just what do you think the republicans have been doing the past 8 years, saving money LOL!

    The more ads, the better. The more ads, the more comfortable people get with his name, his face, his policies, his intellect. Go Obama.

    October 24, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. Educated Young Republicans for OBAMA








    October 24, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Indiana Joe

    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 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. Let's Unite

    Yea well my pick for president is much more important than my pick of cell phone service provider.

    October 24, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Eagle

    Kerry did not spend enough you guys complained, Obama is spending enough and you guys still complain, I guess no one can win here. Seems to me someone's desperate for a story.

    October 24, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  11. Trish

    It's terrible that Obama's grandmother is ailing and it is reported that she may not live to see Nov. 4th, but why would he be hitting the campaing trail so quickly again tomorrow and why are his wife and daughters not in Hawaii with Obama? Doesn't family come first above all else? If it were my grandmother, my whole family would be there spending as much time as we could. So much for family values and what is really important.....

    October 24, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. Andrew


    Actually its my money he is spending, not yours. And I will give him more.

    The future seems bright. Get your shades.

    October 24, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Buckeye4Obama

    Let's not compare Apples and Oranges. So McDonalds only spends 588 Million per year. The per year part is important here. These are companines whose advertising strategy is for the long term. They aim, in part, to create brand recognition over a long period of time. By contrast, political candidates are trying to get their identities out there and create recognition in a fairly short period of time. You also don't see these companies having to spend ad dollars responding to frequent, direct attacks on their own brands. Both of these facts make it hard to compare add spending of candidates to corporations, especially when you try to extrapolate the figures to some kind of made up annual figure. Sure, there is some room for debate about the amounts of money that have been spent on this campaign, but let's please keep the discussion grounded in reality.

    October 24, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. Ken, Republican Voting for Obama

    Why is it that when Alqaida endores McCWar he does not agree with them but when they say the front war they war on terror is in Iraq he agrees with them, I dont understand the logic

    October 24, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. tulsa

    Hey KC,
    He's spending MY money. Millions of other people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, all ages have given money for him to BEAT THE HELL OUT OF GUYS LIKE YOU.
    Deal with it.

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. marie

    Forget it Abby.... the lie and hox has already been reported on MSNBC among other places ..... yet CNN keeps the lie and untruth on the front page of the politics section.

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. CV

    Don't worry. If McCain could manage to raise as much money or enthusiasm as Obama he'd be spending just as much money on advertising. He'd also probably spend a few hundred thousand dollars more on clothes for his VP if he had the cash, since he's clearly of the opinion that a woman's appearance helps determine her qualifications as a world leader.

    The fact is, however, that McCain doesn't have the cash because he's not really wanted by the American people. He hasn't compelled them, and he hasn't effectively led his own campaign. The fact that he can't come up with enough cash to compete doesn't make me feel very confident that he'll know where to get the cash to run our country either.

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. pawstiv1

    That's because there are many of us out here that donate what we can on a regular basis because we KNOW that this country needs new leadership

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. Dean in Florida

    Obama must spend that much so that he can hammer home the message. No one will believe it if he only tells a lie a few times. But if ignorant people keep hearing a lie over and over...soon they'll begin to belive it. It's called propoganda.

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. Michael watching from Canada

    What if McCain was able to raise the same amount of funds that Obama has raised? Do you think McCain would be spending the same amount on advertising?


    But what is more important?

    1 Who spends more on advertising? Or

    2 Who spends most of their advertising dollars on positive ads that address real issues?

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. unknown

    doesn't this just confirm how much the people want change? since all his ad money comes from donation?

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. Susan

    No Problem.

    People who wanted change paid for the adverts.

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Charm

    I don't see that there is a problem with the Obama campaign spending money that was donated to the campaign on ads. Aren't ads what we expect campaign funds to be spent on instead of $150,000 on clothing, hair and make-up?

    October 24, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Dan

    KC don't be so stupid. The money was given voluntarily for him to spend.

    If McCain had it, he'd be spending it, too.

    October 24, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Winnie Hussein . . . in Montana

    Do NOT criticize Sen. Obama's spending of the money that WE donated to him. That is WHY we donated it to him, to use for advertisements and all other necessary items in his run for the presidency. Who cares how much he is spending? That's what the money is for.

    October 24, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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