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. 30-m-PA


    Are you blind? 90% of what CNN posts is pro-Obama!

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

    Obama and tbe DNC “ADMITTED”, by way of failure to timely respond to Requests for Admissions, all of the numerous specific requests in the Federal lawsuit. Obama is “NOT QUALIFIED” to be President and therefore Obama must immediately withdraw his candidacy for President and the DNC shall substitute a qualified candidate. The case is Berg v. Obama, No. 08-cv-04083.

    October 24, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. Jon

    Obama's money comes from thousands of people like me who have donated what they can because they believe in him. McCain's money was given to him by the government. The government money also comes from us, of course, in the form of taxes. At least when we give money to Obama it's our decision.

    October 24, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. sue

    Hey KC – are you ok with the $150,000 that was spent on Palin for her hair, make-up and clothes?

    Seriously, they are BOTH spending millions on ads. It's how the process works – and it doesn't matter which becomes president because your money is going to get spent anyway.

    October 24, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Bob

    The comparisons to McDonalds and Walmart in terms of name branding are unfair. These companies have been around for many decades. Obama's brand is only been around for a couple of years. that needs to factored in.

    October 24, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. Harry Bader

    Barack Obama is a mega brand. John McCain is a standard brand. This country needs mega leader. We have mega problems caused by the last 8 years under the Bush administration that hopfully he will be fixed.


    October 24, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. cool onlooker

    CNN – No bias, no bull

    Why not the news of protest blocking Palin's campaign route.

    October 24, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |

    KC ur unbelievable!! Millions of dollars to lie, people gave and are still giving to the Obama campaign because he's a true leader, exactly what this country needs. Your candidate is running out of money because the republicans are not given because they don't believe in McCain and the money they are give and going towards Palins clothing allowance of 150K to include a $4,000 hand bag for her daughter.

    Change we can believe in is Obama/Biden

    October 24, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Daryl in Seattle

    I think the salvation of this country and it's effect on the world are worth even more than that amount. If you ask the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the folks suffering from home foreclosure and high gas prices, as well as the falsely imprisoned being tortured at Guantanamo and other prisons....that is money well spent!

    October 24, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. KMAN

    McCain and his obviously cheap supporters had the same opportunity to raise as much as they wanted. Millions of supporters of Obama are the ones that made the difference. So, put up (for your candidate) or shut up!

    October 24, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. dEMOBRAT


    October 24, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Ron from Baltimore

    It's all relative, right? Obama is able to utilize the amount of funding his many supporters continue to provide. Same for McCain, even though he has to combine his finances with those of the Republican National Committee. Fair enough.

    Obama has more to spend because he has more of a message that more Americans can get behind, and so many want to advance that message. Fair enough!

    October 24, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. dEMOBRAT


    October 24, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. mr canada

    $ 250 million in 4 months ! Things can't be that bad in George Bush COUNTRY.

    October 24, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. Repub turned DEMOCRAT

    Being a life-long Christian and a pastor's kid, there's a saying in the church that most people don't want to admit to: people vote with their pocketbooks. Meaning, they might attend church, but if they aren't tithing or giving, they aren't happy. Much of Obama's money has been raised through donations by everyday people. Some of these people are in areas so Republican that they know their actual ballot will have no effect on the electoral college outcome, but their $5 or $10 WILL have an effect in a battleground state.

    People are voting with their pocketbooks. $600 million of them so far.

    Obama/Biden '08.

    October 24, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. JD

    I sincerely doubt that our founding fathers intended for someone to BUY the presidency.

    Our legislators should put a stop to this before any more presidental elections by setting limits on spending.

    Becoming President of the United States should be possible for anyone. By permitting even ONE president to buy his way into office we insult the values upon which this country is based and we set a precedent that none of us should want to be set.

    I will be voting for McCain and against Obama in part for this very reason.

    October 24, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. Michael

    Something tells me that many will vote for the same old politics, because for many humans who do not learn well, staying in the same place is comfortable, no matter how bad it is. That explains why so many poor just stay in the slums, when they could work harder to move out, and how those who leave the slums are criticised by those who remain.
    Just human nature would give the McCain Palin ticket the winning numbers. It takes a thinking generation to want to go for Obama.
    This election just may show up how educated the USA really is.

    October 24, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. nobama

    Obama is not eligible to be POTUS unless he proves without a shadow of doubt that he is a legitimate citizen of the U.S.A. ALthough his campaign has posted a birth certificate as proof of citizenship rumors abound on its legitimacy. Obama has yet to release personal records from his college years too. There are at least three lawsuits against Obama demanding he release an ORIGINAL and real birth certificate. One of the lawsuits is in Hawaii and the judge is set to give a ruling today. Is that the REAL reason why Obama suspended his campaing and flew to Hawaii?

    October 24, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. Loyal Democrat in MD

    Obama is spending HIS money...money freely given to him by supporters! (Myself included). it takes a lot of money to pay for ads refuting all the McCain/Palin lies!!!

    October 24, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. Matthew - DE

    Tone: Apart from complaints about the accuracy of campaign ads, network reporters often disdained the negative tone of ads. Again, McCain was on the receiving end of nearly three times as many stories scolding his supposed negativity (66) as Obama (26). But according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project's review of ads from June 4 to October 4, and taking into account ads that include both positive and negative messages, "the tone of the McCain and Obama campaigns has been absolutely identical."

    WOW... you would think so reading the media twisted blogs!

    October 24, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. Joey in NJ

    Forget about Obama's advertising, anyone can get money donated from supporters. McCain has the best advertising team ever. They are willing to get beat up for their candidate!

    Sorry, but I can't stop laughing.
    And Still Voting Obama in 08!

    October 24, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. Maggie from Virginia

    I'm happy to be one of the millions who contributed!! I'm Maggie, and I approve this message.

    BTW, I voted today.

    October 24, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Dr. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    GO FIGURE !!!!!









    October 24, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Scott in Atlanta

    Tell the truth about the John Mccain supporter who lied about being attacked. She carved a "B" into her own face which should have been obvious by the way it was backward as if looking in a mirror. Report the truth now that you've already spread the lie.

    October 24, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  25. Chris

    Hey, if it gets Obama into the White House, more power to him!!!!!!!! I certainly hope that behind the scenes in the "Straight-Talk Express", McCain is regretting his decision to take public financing.

    Chris from NC

    October 24, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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