Editor’s note: Ad Age’s Campaign Ad Scorecard is a deep dive into political ad spending across federal-level and gubernatorial races through Election Day. Dive even deeper at AdAge.com/CampaignTrail.
At this point in the money-addled U.S. presidential campaign cycle, a $10 million Super Bowl ad almost seems like a modest expenditure—along the lines of (for us regular folks) a last-minute impulse buy of an extra bag of Tostitos at 7-Eleven for friends coming over to watch the game.
To put in perspective last week’s news that both President Donald Trump and media mogul Mike Bloomberg are each dropping said sum to air 60-second campaign ads during the Super Bowl, consider the big picture: According to the latest Ad Age Datacenter analysis of political ad spending in partnership with Kantar/CMAG, the top five biggest spenders on TV and radio have burned through just under $316 million so far (including advance bookings through Election Day). That’s 88 percent of the $359 million total spent on all TV and radio ads related to the 2020 presidential election. The high rollers are, in order, Bloomberg, hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.