Obama will be spending $5 million on a network prime-time buy -- and not just any show. It's the Beijing Olympics, no less -- one of the most expensive buys any candidate or marketer can make, with an average $750,000 per 30-second commercial message. The Obama deal was first reported by Advertising Age.
A lot of this has to do with the record fundraising Obama has been doing, going back to his race for the Democratic candidacy. For example, Obama raised a whopping $52 million in June alone -- almost twice that of Republican competitor John McCain.
Presidential candidates typically eschew national TV, instead buying media market by market because they can load up in markets/states they are behind in and avoid those other markets where they are already doing well.
So Obama is doing what any marketer is doing in buying a big TV event, like the Super Bowl. (Obama did, in fact, buy commercials in this year's Super Bowl, but only in selected local markets). He's looking for a big splash. In that regard, he is just like other marketers -- getting some big public relation spin in print and TV business news stories about his big network buy even before the actual TV commercials have aired.
Does this big, brash media network buy signal other ground-breaking decisions, showing off his leadership qualities to come should he be voted into office?
Right now, it doesn't stop with the Olympics. Obama is considering targeting niche audiences -- also on a national TV level, with MTV and BET.
Obama's media buy comes on the heels of a strong upfront marketplace for virtually all national TV programmers -- network, cable, and syndication.
Obama's story on the financing of his campaign is well-told. He eschews federal matching money in favor of grass-roots efforts where individuals contribute small amounts of money to his campaign, leaving the campaign to spend as much money as it can raise.
It seems simple enough -- a somewhat groundbreaking approach, giving Obama some big impact.
Network television ad sales executives would say the same thing, where one phone call instead of 20 while buying spot TV is another simple approach, and one where a marketer can make a big impression.
All in all, it's a vote for big-time television.