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. Cynthia

    If McCain had the money he would do the same. We have to watch those sneaky low down republicans, they are trying to steal this one as well. They will do anything to win. And yes you do have to respect you foes.

    October 29, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. larry

    America needs a well comitted, dedicated,energetic,fast thinking leader to enable the country come back to it:s fit once more.Not conservative minded .Vote for him and see how fast the changes will com.

    OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT:

    October 29, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Ruth

    I don't think the show tonight will be an infomercial. I think there will be a discussion of every day people who are struggling just to make ends meet. That and let's face it... Obama has to go that extra step. He is going up against prejudice out there and he hasn't been around Washington all his life. I think this will seal the deal. I pray.

    I am proud to also be a supporter of Obama and have never had a second thought as to who would best serve this Great Country.

    October 29, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Gina (Alabama)

    I am glad I gave to the Obama campaign. I believe everything I gave will be looked over and used well.

    I believe this is the October surprise!

    October 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Jeff

    I hope Joe the Plumber watches!

    October 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. James

    Obama has without a doubt ran the very best Political Campaign in History. It really is a great window into how he would run his administartion. The man is simply Brilliant , and America needs his leadership.

    Vote smart

    Vote Obama

    October 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Dallas

    Money talks. And in true Dem fashion, Obama is spending, spending, spending. This has been a brilliantly-run campaign... and waiting until the November Sweeps to air an entire infomercial? Very smart... no wonder Fox will delay the World Series game! Talk about ratings boosts for ALL the Networks – including Univision. Brilliant!

    But I'm not worried about 30min – I'm worried about 4 years... What a circus the Presidential Election has become! It's sickening. At least I can say I voted for Bob Barr.

    October 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. Alice Brinkley

    Looks like no TV for me tonight. I am far too experienced in this life to listen to the empty promises of an empty suit. The only thing Obama can bring to Washington is his Marxism.

    October 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Mike V

    Disappointing that this election is going to be decided by who spent the most money on advertising.

    Would have been interesting if the media gave equal coverage to both candidates.

    Too bad the $1B+ that's been spent on the presidential campaigns wasn't put to better use. How many of our homeless could have been fed with the money spent on this 30 minute advertisement?

    October 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. Lee from FL

    if the repubs had that kinda of money they would run a 30 min negative ad

    October 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Mike G

    Wonder why CNN didn't pick this broadcast yet they have decided to give us D.L. Hughley????

    October 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. FAYE, NV

    This is a great move by the Obama/Biden camp and it shows a president who is willing to go out for the country. McCain/RNC and complain all they want and think this 30mins spot is a waste of time but it is a clear shot at who will make a better President of the USA.

    I truly wish the hating would stop and McCain would run a better campaign than what he has been running. Palin is still out of her league and she has many years to get smart. wink, wink.

    October 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Time For A Change

    I'm donating $100 today for my share of the speech. The contrast of Obama's clear vision, steady demeanor and solid judgment stands in sharp contrast to the erratic, reckless and desperate behavior of McCain and the pointless braying of the clueless Palin. (Read the insider's reports of dissension in the ranks to see what GOP operatives close to her REALLY think of her readiness to serve) It says a lot – and not much of it's good – about the 'undecideds' who look at the incredibly sharp contrasts between the two tickets and are still unsure. It's not surprising then, that they're expected to support McCain 2-1. Not surprising, but sad. Perhaps Obama will something to them tonight that will move them in the right – by which I mean left – direction.

    October 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. Jane Independent

    I fear a precedence has been set here. Future elections will have a billion dollar price tag as both parties will forgo public money. Get used to 30 minute ads from both camps.

    October 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. surprisingly competitive

    When McCain tries to belittle Obama's strategic move by putting an half hour ad on tv, it is because he is jealous that he could not afford to do so himself.

    He knows this is a strong strategic move and his only defense against it is petty.

    At least he is not foolishly spending money on wardrobe. He is spending the money on what his supporters gave him money to do.

    Tax and spend Republicans are what you are- the extravagant purchases that have nothing to do with anything, is how you have ruled washington for the past 8 years and how you run your campaign now.

    October 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Erik from Real PA

    This ad might finally squash GOP cries of "socialist" or whatever the scare du jour might be. The electoral college math still doesn't favor McCain. If McCain wins ALL battleground states and keeps all states already leaning his way or solid for him, he still comes up short on the required 270. Obama would have to lose a few states trending his way (due to the worst polling errors in U.S. history, lots of closet racism, whatever) to not edge out a win on Tuesday.

    October 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. ERICA

    Barack Hussein Obama will be the next president of the United States.

    Go Barack!

    Please vote early if you have the opportunity too. I know I did.

    Countdown: 6 days.....

    The feeling to go to sleep with a declared president and wake up with the same declared president with no tricks/no sudden miscalulations/no lies/no laws changed over night..... will be one of the best days ever!!!!!!!!!

    I am so proud................this is a president that you don't have to be ashamed of. We have waited 8 years for this......8 long hard, miserable, and turmoiled years.

    October 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Don't Player Hate

    Don't hate the player, hate the game. Don't hate Obama for spending money on ad time that he and his campaign raised. If you want, hate the game itself (that all politicians play) which allows for candidates to raise money and spend it anyway they want to.

    October 29, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Dr Roy

    Don't be surprised to see higher ratings for Pushing Daisies (ABC), SpongeBob (Nick) and Dog the Bounty Hunter (A&E). When people see Obama on multiple channels at the same time, they will simply tune it out.

    Besides, the Khalidi-Ayers-Obama love triangle is hitting the TV, internet and radio, and will overshadow the infomercial. Look for any Jewish-American support of Obama to collapse.

    October 29, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Jill American

    All that money to spend and he can't give our lawn signs in NJ to people who want to show their support and who have donated to his campaign?

    October 29, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Greg Hodges

    I do not know what Senator Obama will say tonight; but it is amusing to watch the Republicans whining about not having the financial resources the Democrats have this year. It is simply a case of the American people voting with their pocket book; by the tens of millions; on who they want to see in the White House in January. The Republicans have been beaten at their own game; overwhelm the opposition with a tidal wave of ads detailing the failures of their policies. The Republicans have no one to blame but themselves!!

    October 29, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Jason

    I'm sort of hesitant on this idea. 30 minutes is quite a long time and I hope undecided voters don't get overwhelmed and leave a feeling of being too overexposed to Obama.

    October 29, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. St Paul Mom

    Obama was solid in the debates and left viewers with more positive feelings about him. I think he'll present himself well in the 30 minute slots too.

    October 29, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. rachel

    Ehh leaing torwards Obama, but this is creepy sort of state tv one world government like I dont like having to watch just one person on a bunch of channels especially when he isnt even president yet.

    October 29, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. Janna from TX

    I'm voting Obama. Not only is he intelligent and eloquent, he doesn't make his decisions based on a religion that – surprise! – many Americans *don't* believe in and *don't* want dictating their rights as humans.

    A vote for Obama is a vote AGAINST McCain and Palin!!

    October 29, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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