You Wouldn't Bring Wine to the Gallo House

So Why Would Unions Spend on Obama Ads? (Actually, There's a Good Reason)

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Evan Tracey Evan Tracey
You wouldn't bring a bottle of wine over to the Gallo brothers' house or give Tiger Woods golf balls for his birthday, so why would you pay good money to run ads on behalf of Barack Obama? This week the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the Service Employees International Union started running ads in support of Obama in Texas and Ohio. The ads drive home themes, in both English and Spanish, of Obama's ability to bring change and take on the healthcare industry as well as other special interest groups. The ad buys seem significant and may prove valuable in the March 4 primaries.

However, I must ask the question: Does he really need the help at this point? During the last 30 days, Obama has outspent Senator Clinton by a whopping $9 million. He's outspent Hillary Clinton in Texas by $1.5 million and in Ohio by $1.1 million. While these union ads will help fire up the base labor voters in these states by reinforcing themes helpful to the Obama campaign, these ads may have a hard time breaking through the Obama's own ad clutter.

Obama continues to put his fundraising to work by pushing the pedal to metal with his ad buys, driving home his core themes of change and taking on the special interests in Washington. While Obama continues to follow the strategy he used his entire campaign of spending heaviest in the largest markets, in these states he is also concentrating significant resources into smaller markets as well as Hispanic media.

This extra help may actually be coming at the best time for the Obama campaign. Although he has consistently maintained a decisive spending advantage on the air, the Clinton campaign buys have recently been able to maintain parity on a daily basis in Texas and Ohio. If Clinton is to have any chance to change the momentum of this race she needs wins in Texas and Ohio, and a one-point victory may not be enough. So these outside-funded ads will likely tip the ad-buy scales back toward Obama as we enter the crucial home stretch. If Obama becomes the eventual Democratic nominee, he may have these union ads to thank.

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Evan Tracey is the founder and chief operating officer of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a TNS Media Intelligence company. See his complete bio.