October 29th, 2008
11:32 AM ET
10 years ago

30-minute Obama ad shows campaign muscle as Election Day nears

Obama's 30-minute ad will air tonight on broadcast and cable networks.

Obama's 30-minute ad will air tonight on broadcast and cable networks.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama plans to run a 30-minute television ad
simultaneously across almost all the broadcast and cable networks Wednesday
night - a "muscle flex" that has little precedent in modern politics, campaign
advertising expert Evan Tracey said.

"It's evidence, if you needed any, that the Obama campaign has more money
than there is ad time left to buy," said Tracey, director of the Campaign Media
Analysis Group (CMAG).

Tracey estimates that it will probably cost the campaign "in the $4-5
million range - at a minimum, $3.5 million."

But, he said, spending the money is a "no-brainer" for the Democratic presidential hopeful.

"The strategic brilliance of this for Obama is that he is going to
consume about 24 hours of the news cycle," Tracey said. "It boxes McCain in,
takes the oxygen out of the room."

There is so much buzz surrounding the infomercial - which was first
announced about two weeks ago - that Time magazine's Mark Halperin Tuesday put
the ad's two editors on his daily list of the "five most important people in
American politics not running for president."

Those editors, Erik Smith and Mark Putnam, were "still in an edit room
cutting" the 30-minute piece on Tuesday when the list was published, Halperin

The ad is slated to run at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, BET, TV One
and Univision, the Spanish-language network.

CNN declined to run the spot, and talks between ABC and the Obama campaign fell apart.

"We were approached by the Obama campaign and declined their request," said Sal Petruzzi, senior vice president for public relations of Turner Broadcasting, CNN's parent company. "We did not want to pre-empt our programming lineup with a 30-minute spot. We would rather use our air to continue to cover the campaign, candidates and issues like we always do from
all points of view with the best political team on television."

An ABC spokeswoman declined to comment about the network's talks with the
Obama campaign.

"As a matter of policy we don't comment about clients with whom we are
doing business," said Julie Hoover of ABC. The Obama campaign has bought advertising on ABC in the past, she said, "but they did not buy the half hour."

Obama is taping an interview Wednesday with ABC's Charles Gibson, which is due to run Thursday, his campaign said.

A source familiar with ABC policy suggested the network had offered the Obama campaign a different time slot.

"Hypothetically we would have offered them equivalent time," the source said. "We don't have to give them the exact slot they are asking for."

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said ABC had ultimately offered Obama the slot he wanted, but the campaign turned it down.

"By the time they agreed we had already committed our resources," Burton said.

The Obama campaign reported last week that it had raised a record-shattering $150 million in the month of September.

Obama has outspent McCain by a huge margin, according to CNN's consultant on ad spending.

Between the time the two candidates clinched their party's nominations in the spring and October 25, Obama spent more than $205 million on TV ads. McCain spent more than $119 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group.

The McCain campaign launched an ad Wednesday attacking Obama for his
30-minute special, saying: "Behind the fancy speeches, grand promises and TV
special, lies the truth: With crises at home and abroad, Barack Obama lacks the
experience America needs."

And the Republican National Committee blasted the timing of the ad, which
pushed back the start of a World Series baseball game by 15 minutes.

"It's unfortunate that the World Series' first pitch is being delayed for
Obama's political pitch. Not only is Obama putting politics before principle,
he's putting it before our national pastime," RNC spokesman Alex Conant said.

"To accommodate a half-hour Obama time buy on Fox on October 29, Major
League Baseball... agreed to move the start time of Game 6 by about 15
minutes," a Fox spokesman said. Wednesday night's game is in fact Game 5, due
to a rain delay.

MLB's willingness to delay the fall classic for a political ad shows how
very unusual the Obama TV spot is.

"Ross Perot did it in 1992, but it wasn't this close to Election Day, and
now you have a very different media consumption environment. You didn't have
the cable then," CMAG's Tracey said. "There is no precedent for this sort of an
ad this late in the race."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (431 Responses)
  1. EDW

    Palin the Socialist..
    her list went on. In the past, she said, “Alaska was conceding too much, and chipping away at our sovereignty. And Alaska—we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” And she said, “Our state constitution—it lays it out for me, how I’m to conduct business with resource development here as the state C.E.O. It’s to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.”

    October 29, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Kathy

    I want to see just where all his money is coming from. I strongly believe it comes from underground radicals. I don't trust this moron for a minute. Wake up America. This will be a tragedy for our once great country. Enough with all the fraudulent votes. I've already voted in La. maybe I'll pick me a park bench in Ohio and vote again. I will be boycotting all TV tonight, can't stand to see his stupid self anymore.

    October 29, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. Joseph Janerique

    Even if it would cost a thrillion, Obama is Worth it. No doubt. We have got to vote right this time. The eternity he can bring to the White House, is what legends are made of. Once again, there must be no doubt: That we as americans are going to vote for Barack. It´s righteous, and in a world of false, we need something right. To get on track.

    Vote for Obama!

    October 29, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |

    Obama is a liar and a cheat. Everything about him is a lie.
    Why do people want to reward him for that.
    Has common sense been breed out of people? Yes, it has.
    Sadly, this is truly the dumbing of America.

    October 29, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Lauren

    I never have donated money to a campaign before, but I feel like Obama has the right ideas. So I've donated twice. And I'm thrilled that he is using the money from independent donations like mine to try and win this campaign. That is why I wanted him to have my money in the first place.

    God knows...if McCain had the funds, he'd be doing something like this as well. Or buying more clothes for his Barbie doll.

    October 29, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. Latina for Obama (nj)

    Can not wait!

    October 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Sally from Cali

    If anything is remembered about this election, it should be the way Obama ran a brilliant campaign.

    We need the smart guy in Washington.

    October 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. Ex-Republican for Obama

    I am quite surprised that CNN is covering the news of the ad, rather then running it. I guess the news is only the news when you can take little bits of it and distort it to your benefit, rather then showing it in it's entirity so people can make up their own minds about it.

    A bit fishy of CNN to make up false reasons for not actually giving the WHOLE story but only enough of it to slant it towards ratings. I do wonder if CNN has an alterior motive behind what they call 'the best news team". I think that their definition of that slogan is "Anything to get viewers, up to and including only sound bites that we/cnn can misinterpret at will and with out remorse".

    I guess I'll have to tune to one of the outlets that professionally report the news, and give the WHOLE story, not just distorted misinterpretations of it.

    October 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Greg in Mpls

    Love him or hate him...you've got admit that Obama has shown he knows how to bring together a great team and get things done.

    The Obama/Biden ticket has run a smart race. Maybe people should notice that, maybe this is a good indication about how he would run his administration. Pack it full of smart people who know what they are doing.

    McCain on the other hand. Will pull stunts, tricks, put blinders on, change course left and right every other day and keep this country off balance for years. That's how his team ran their race.

    Just something to think about.

    October 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. jay

    We support Senator Obama's campaign – and we support him so he can fight the vulgar smears from the McCain campaign.

    October 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. time for nick at night

    I can't wait to miss this speach

    October 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Elle

    I've already voted for Obama, but I'll be interested to see if he says something in this spot we don't already know. Maybe address a new policy idea or clarify his tax plan to the repubs that keep distorting it?

    October 29, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Kudos To The O Team

    Kudos to the Obama Team. They have run this campaign brilliantly and I am so proud of them. They spent my money wisely and it shows. It is a good example of how Barack will run his presidency.

    I can't wait to vote on November. I'm so excited and will send Barack another check for his inaugural bash.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 29, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. vic

    I will be tuned in!
    I'm a happy supporter of Senator Obama and I look forward to listening to his documentary without the talking heads tearing him apart with their slanted views.

    October 29, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. Colm

    I'm impressed that Obama is beating McCain hands down on every metric, including money raised. The guy is good, can't wait for the 30 minute slots tonight!

    October 29, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. VOTE 3rd PARTY!!!!!

    Thanks for the info. Even if Halloween is Friday, I'm not sure if I'm ready for something this scary. Guess I'll stop at Blockbuster on the way home!

    October 29, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. M. WINNERS

    This commercial is absolutely necessary what with all the "fear, smear, mock and LIES" that the McCain/Palin camp has been spreading about Obama and Biden these last months.

    October 29, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Justin, ny

    The Republicans are really trying to argue that baseball is more important than the future of our country?

    not to mention the fact that tonights game starts in the 6th inning anyway – so delaying the start by 5 minutes isn't really going to make much of a difference....

    October 29, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Thirty Minutes...

    I will watch every second of the thirty minutes.

    As far as our national pasttime. We need money in order to support it, that means a robust economy. I think the national pasttime can wait.

    Let's talk business, than play ball.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 29, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. 400 families own half the country!

    and they are trying to steal the other half right now right under your nose!

    you and your children are their slaves for the foreseeable future.

    that's capitalism for you!

    enjoy it!

    October 29, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Puzzled

    Can't wait to see it. Glad to see my donations going to good use.

    October 29, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Essay

    To people who want to blast the Obama campaign for such a move, I say this...if networks didn't want to air the 30-minute infomercial, they wouldn't have taken the money. You can always say "no". Given all the blatant lies and misinformation put out there by the RNC and McCain campaign, it's a good idea to set the record straight for once and for all. Maybe all of the undecided voters will see and hear what they need to make a final decision.

    October 29, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. pdixon


    October 29, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. John

    Yea, because he told a bold-faced lie about public finance. A man american can be proud of! Yessiree!

    October 29, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. Maggie from Virginia

    An unprecedented campaign to go along with an unprecedented candidate. That's why we're winning. To all you nay-sayers... Watch and learn.

    October 29, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
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