Obama Can't Sell Stimulus Without TV Ads

Campaign's Biggest Spender Is No Longer Using His Most Effective Weapon

By Published on .

Evan Tracey Evan Tracey
As President Barack Obama prepares to give his first prime-time news conference tonight to sell his economic stimulus package to the public, he finds himself fighting this political battle without one of his most powerful weapons: TV advertising.

During the campaign, Obama's extraordinary fundraising gave him the ability to communicate to the public directly through his TV ads. Since the start of the general election, he spent, on average, $11 million per week communicating with voters through TV. This unfiltered messaging proved to be one of candidate Obama's biggest strengths last fall. Since he took office in January, however, Obama has relied on a series of press conferences and the usual presidential forums to get his message to the American public. This strategy allows members of the opposition, as well as the press, to filter the information. As seen by the PR difficulties faced by the president regarding his stimulus package, it prevents Obama from effectively selling his product on a mass scale like he was able to do as a candidate.

Compounding this problem, only one major interest group is currently running TV ads in support of the stimulus. Americans United for Change recently released 30-second spots in the states of key Republican senators. These ads feature a speech by Obama touting the benefits of his plan to "get our economy moving again." The narrator then encourages voters to call their senators and tell them to "support the Obama plan for jobs, not the failed policies of the past." These commercials will undoubtedly help, but in comparison to the $11 million per week expenditures by the Obama campaign, the group's efforts are minimal and cannot compete with the Obama machine's ability to mass market his message.

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

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