October 29th, 2008
11:32 AM ET
5 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
said.

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. Mari

    Wow. If he has this election in the bag, why the need for this 30 minute ad spanning the networks? Being innundated with his regular ads already bores me as they are everywhere. I wonder if he'll actually speak to his ideas or slam McCain?

    October 29, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. craig

    Obama, win or loose as changed the political landscape. He has opened the door for other minorities who might aspire to the presidency. He has written a new playbook on campagaining and fund raising.

    The only thing that could keep him out of the WhiteHouse at this point is the fact that he is black, and some folks would and could not allow that to happen. Any white candidaite who runs a campagain on par with Obama's would win a historical fashion. I hope the democrats learn from this.

    October 29, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  3. DEMOCRAT FOR MCCAIN

    WOW!! People are hurting and losing thier homes and Obama shells out MILLIONS for an arrogant, elitist " I am the new god " type ad?? I hope you LOSE Obama!!!

    October 29, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Justin

    Hey CNN,

    If you did some more leg work you might know that this wasn't actually the cause of the MLB game delay.

    It might also be worth mentioning that the RNC actually DID cause the push back of the NFL season opener.

    October 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. pam

    One thing sealed the deal for me.

    John and Cindy McCain both on several occasions said that the nasty, negative adds would NEVER come from their side.

    Now, he has hired the same people Bush did to sink him. He is exactly like Bush.

    Please.........let's don't rip the world in two, don't let the politics of fear that gave us Bush work yet again, I beg you!!!!!!!!!!!

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. President Barack Obama

    Aint No Stoppin Us Now.....Were On The Move!!!

    Barack Your Vote08!!!!!

    October 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. Blue - Philly

    No big deal missing the World Series pre-game crap which takes at least a half hour.

    So why not have Obama explain more of his plans instead of listening to lousy sports commentators. Also, hasn't the media kept insisting that this series has the the LOWEST tv ratings ever.

    Let's GO Phillies!!!!

    October 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. This Canadian Loves Obama

    So CNN didn't want to preempt Campbell Brown's show? I guess in order to show no bias, eh? What a farce. I'll be watching CNBC.

    October 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  9. Sha

    I totally agree with this move!!! Way to strategize Obama..

    October 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  10. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Obama and the Dems are doing exactly what the Repubs have done for decades...use overwhelming financial advantage to overpower the opponent.

    Now that the Dems can do it, the Repubs are crying foul.

    I say they are just crying like spoiled children whose parents finally take away the candy. What's good for the goose...

    October 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. Charlie Bradley

    I think this 30-miunute ad should be a REQUIREMENT for EVERY Presidential candidate. Without the filters of the media, without the constraints of the debates....just 30 minutes to tell us WHAT you're about Where you've been, where you're going, why you think you are the best man for the job, why we should believe you.

    October 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. nobama

    Muscle????
    If lying about accepting public financing and taking millions in bogus, non-traceable contributions is muscle, then I guess that is the correct term.
    Buying an election rarely works. Let's see what happens next Tuesday when the polls are proven wrong again.

    October 29, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. mike

    Go Obama . Thanks. I don't have to work. Obama going to mail my family money. go go go Obama.

    October 29, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. TAINOPOWER

    I am hosting an Obama party tonight just to view it! The main course of tonight's fare is Roasted Moose.

    October 29, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. Marie in California

    I see that Obama is still trying to buy his way into the presidency......

    Pathetic.

    October 29, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. onelove

    Yes, I'm very excited to see the infomerical because Sen. Obama wants to make it clear that he is for the American people.

    John McCain is just mad because he couldn't afford to do this.

    Go Obama/Biden.

    I was in Raleigh, North Carolina a few weeks ago and I was so excited to see hundreds of Obama/Biden lawn signs.

    Change we can believe in!

    October 29, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  17. Dave, Central Illinois

    Yeah, it really payed breaking a promise about taking public financing. I wonder what other promises this empty suit will break. Obama is a dirty, socialist, black theology, Chicago thug. God help us if he and Acorn steal this election.

    October 29, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Amber

    Let's be reasonable –

    As to your Palin comments, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I am growing increasingly disgruntled with the slimey lies being thrown by the right and the taunts and neener neener neeners thrown by the left.

    Can't we all act like adults? Everyone here – your words and actions are creating an irreparable rift in this country. Please grow up.

    OBAMA / BIDEN 2008
    YES WE CAN!

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

    Smart move Obama! For far too long the dems have been too hesitant to do the work required to win against the repub. slime machine. You have shown the dems that repubs are not invincible and you can beat them when they run in 2008 like they did in 2004.

    October 29, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. Bulldog

    Look at how Obama has run his campaign and then look at how McCain has run his. McCain and his aides are fighting with each other behind the scenes and calling Sarah Palin "diva", "whack job", and saying nobody trusts her including her own family. Wow. Who do we want in the White House. A team that has run an excellent campaign or a team that hates each other and wants to get after each others throats like a couple of pit bulls? You decide.

    October 29, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. sick n tired

    To ex republican for Obama: I absolutely agree with you 100%!!! CNN.......Conveinent, Conservative, Communist News Network!

    October 29, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Gobama!

    Wisely spent money.

    Can't wait to elect you!

    October 29, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. Phil, Ashburn, VA

    Anyone who is complaining about spending... this is our money. People who support him and stand behind him. We believe in his strategy. He has proven himself so far.

    October 29, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. Paying Attention

    *******CNN Please post. Thank You!

    I am going to watch this Obama 30 minute special.

    This will give Obama a chance to give a detailed look at his polices. Many people do not have the opportunity to go online like us and look at the policies of the candidates.

    Many older Americans do not have a computer. They can only watch speeches or commercials. They will now get a chance to see the type of detail they have been looking for.

    I think the undecideds will learn some important information by watching this 30 minute special. I support anything that gets out the facts.

    I am disappointed that CNN chose not to air this special.

    October 29, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. al in memphis

    wally October 29th, 2008 11:11 am ET

    Obama will make a mess out of the country that President Bush worked so hard to make better. Palin will help McCain continue along our path of great success!
    _____________________________________________________
    From these comments, it appears 30 minutes is not enough time to educate voters who really care about the future of this country.

    I would guess Wally is one of those CEO's who got the bailout and will miss the welfare for the rich, but I can't see a company trusting someone this blind.

    October 29, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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