October 29th, 2008
11:32 AM ET
9 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. Olivia


    Palin is no socialist. Shame on you.
    Alaskans are americans.....Hillary work for newyorkers who are americans......McCain work for arizonians, who are americans....get the mesage. You're talking out of the wrong end.
    Oh, also..... Obama haven't got enough of the peoples' money to buy my vote. The man is plain over the top. A proven spender....big time.

    October 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. Enforcer

    Senator McBush could hardly wait for 5 Nov 08 so he can go back to his hideout and ponder his future as a senator full knowing that he lost the election due to the prevailing forces of change that enveloped the country.

    October 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Not So Delusional

    I'm an Obama supporter, BUT, this 30 minute ad stuff is just creepy. It's so reminiscent of the primetime TV slot that Michael Jackson bought to try and publicly clear his name.. Gross.. I just hope Barry (Can i call you, Barry?) isn't going over the top on this one.

    Could turn a lot of undecideds off. At least he's not interrupting football.

    October 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. mama4obama

    Another brilliant move by Obama. His campaign has been run in an excellent manner. My donations are being put to good use. If McCain had thought of it...and had the backing of the American people...no one would be winking an eye at it. I think this is an excellent opportunity for Obama to reach out to those who are undecided and show what a true leader he is.

    He already got my vote as well as all members of my family.

    October 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. jm for sc

    The money we donated to Obama was given for the purpose of what ever his campaign feel is necessary to get his message out. Since many in the media seem to be given Palin and McCain free air time.

    The America people need to be informed no matter what the cost is.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. JuTon


    I don't think its desperation to seal the deal. I think that he is not looking at the polls and taking them for granted. As he stated in his closing arguments that it is not the time to slack in this campaign but it is time to go at this race until they cross the finish line and that is exactly what he is doing. He's hitting the track as hard as he can within these last days with 30 minute ads, television interviews and campaigning day in and day out. I really admire his consistency, his will and determination to get what his heart desires and i have total respect for the campaign he has run.

    Go Obama!!!! Less than 6 days til the finish!

    October 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Still for Hill, but voting McCain

    Funny that CNN is not running the 30 minute ad for Obama.

    They really don't need to. 24 hours a day positive political coverage for Obama is enough.

    I wonder if you guys are in on the LA Times coverup for Obama.

    Use your brain people.... You don't spend your whole life hanging around with Marxists, muslims, and radicals unless you are one of them.

    McCain/Palin 08

    October 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. steve

    This is yet one more example of Obama's superiority in planning and implementing. This of course has in part to do with money. But those who criticize Obama for hypocritically reneging on promises to reform campaign financing miss the point that you don't get to reform if you don't get the power to reform. Those who support Obama understand not only is the campaign financing system broken, but Republicans operatives will, have, and will continue to use any means at their disposal to lie, discredit and undermine Obama. This time the Democrats and those twice burned Republicans are saying in fact we ARE as mad as hell and we WON'T take it any more!

    October 29, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Jl

    Funny how this article turns out to be what McCain and the RNC think of it.

    Don't worry McCain. CNN will make sure you don't get overlooked in the newscycle. I'm sure there is some folksy Palin piece they will push on us or something.

    Oh, yea. Obama will be on MSNBC's the Rachel Maddow show tomorrow night for those Obama supporters that like to get the real information about him, rather than just the republican side.

    October 29, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Adam

    Brilliant Idean and very disapointed CNN not showing it. I only watch CNN and I will continue to.

    October 29, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Four million really doesn't sound like that much when you think of all the people that can be reached. This is probably a much more efficient way to reach people than the debates, and certainly more effective than the constant drone of 30 second ads with the same old voice and the same old citations of old newspaper articles and old quotations.

    Given how McCain has dedicated himself to making the election about Obama, this is a good way for Obama to get his own message out.

    October 29, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. Gayle

    Since CNN is not airing Obama's infomercial tonight, I won't be watching CNN at all anymore.

    From now on, I will watch MSNBC exclusively.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 29, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. DOS

    The Obama-Axelrod-Plouffe campaign is brilliant. These people have outmaneuvered the McCain-Schmidt campaign time and again. The timing, power, and sense of balance of this organization is flawless. Truly flawless. I don't mean to make this a partisan post, but has McCain's campaign done anything right? I can't think of a single McCain tactic that has really succeeded. Maybe someone can correct me on that.

    October 29, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. Jewel51

    Saw the ad this morning on MSNBC and loved it. I just wish the Obama Campaign would make one that shows McCain back in 2000 and I believe 2003 talking about the Bush tax cuts. One was on Hardball at a college and the other was an interview. The McCain of 2000 agrees with Obama. But the McCain of 2000 doesn't exist any more. He is a puppet to the far right only.
    I also think that CNN needs to a better job of fact checking and reporting it, not just snippets. Maybe if they had less commercials (which is a good portion of their shows), they would have time to actually report on a subject. I don't watch it like I used to just for that simple fact. If I wanted all the commercial time, I would watch infomercials.

    October 29, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. S. Boatman

    Mccain Should Have Saved Some Of His Money To Do The Same Thing, But He Spent It On Ads About Celebraties, Dr. No, And Acorn! Now Obama Will Have A Half Hour All To Himself! Mccain Has Run A Poor Campaign So Now He Wont Run The Country!

    October 29, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. AMGC

    I have no problem with my donations going to this.

    October 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. howl with Fries

    Muscles and brains. McCain and Palin can't compete.

    October 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  18. Darrell

    Obama is flexing his muscle and it is looking good. I can tell you coming from a family that has been inolved in energy and the Alaskan Pipeline Project,Sarah Palin is a whack job and does NOT know what she is talking about.It would take the whole site to point out her blunders. Given that I will just say it is first and foremost priority that to be an Energy Expert you first have to kow that man is part of the enviromental problems.She lied her face off and looked dumb !

    October 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. mitch

    i cant believe cnn will not air this. guess i'll get my news somewhere's else.

    October 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. KJ

    Get them, O! This was a brilliant strategic move. It's going to consume 24hrs of the news cycle, after which Obama's interviews are going to consume the rest of the week. They'll make one final move to finish out the week strong, dominate the Sunday talk-show circuit, and have this thing in the bag come Tuesday.. I hope.

    October 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. Nimi from NY

    CNN was able to carry D.L Hughley's program which depicts Obama in a bad way but will not carry Obama's informatial. I guess tCNN will rather trash Obama than hear what he has to say himself.

    October 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. Bosworth

    This will only be preaching to the converted. It isn't lost on a lot of independents that he wouldn't have been able to do this without backtracking on his word about campaign financing. Frankly, it comes off as disingenuous. It is ironic that McCain may lose this election for, among other things, taking the high road in campaign finance reform. It sort of degrades my opinion of Obama. I hope his fans enjoy the show. But, I think I'll catch something a little more genuine, like a good book.

    October 29, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. Elaine Bergstrom

    Obama's donors number over 2 million. The average donation is under $100, which makes me a major donor at around $150 for the entire campaign. Go-Bama!!!

    October 29, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. Michael watching from Canada

    I watched Palin's energy speech this morning.

    I am an engineer who has been involved in alternative energy technologies for over twenty years. Since when does being the Governor of an oil-producing state make them an expert on energy?

    Please do not think for a second that drilling for oil somehow gives someone knowledge on energy technology expertise, especially alternative energy.

    It is an insult, I repeat, an insult to remotely suggest that Palin is an expert on energy.

    Palin’s claims suggesting that, since she is the Governor of an oil drilling state, makes her an expert on energy is on the same level of naivety as her claims that she has extensive foreign policy experience with Russia due to Alaska’s proximity to Russia!!

    Let’s see (consistent with how Ms Palin pretends to establish credentials)…..

    ……if she were Governor of Michigan, does that mean she would be an expert in manufacturing cars!

    October 29, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Rick

    Senator Obama knows how to spend money! LOTS of money! We don't need his kind of "change" in America – our pocket change that is!

    October 29, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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