Olympic Deal Sealed: Obama Makes $5 Million Buy

Candidate's Package Includes National Network, Cable

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- It's official. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign will be among the TV sponsors of NBC Universal's Olympics coverage. In the first significant network-TV buy for any presidential candidate in at least 12 years, the Obama campaign has taken a $5 million package of Olympics spots that includes network TV as well as cable ads.
Sen. Barack Obama
Sen. Barack Obama Credit: AP

According to NBC's political file, the campaign had initially requested information about $500,000, $2 million and $4 million packages of Olympics spots. The network also offered the candidate a $10 million package.

Most dayparts
NBC Universal is airing 3,600 hours of Olympics coverage on its broadcast network and cable networks including NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Oxygen and Telemundo, and while some of the Obama campaign's spots will air on network TV, the breakdown of how many or exactly when they will air was not immediately available. It did encompass most dayparts.

The Obama campaign did not return several calls and messages seeking comment on the reasoning behind the buy.

The Obama campaign will join major advertisers including McDonald's and Anheuser-Busch. The Beijing games begin with opening ceremonies Aug. 8.

While Rudy Giuliani's campaign did a tiny buy to air political ads on "Fox News Sunday" in consecutive weeks, the Obama campaign's spending on the high-rated and expensive Olympics top anything that has been done on network TV by presidential candidates in years.

Bob Dole's 1996 buy
The last network TV spot bought by a presidential contender was apparently a single multi-minute ad run by Republican Sen. Bob Dole in 1996.

Presidential candidates have mostly used their advertising to target battleground states, turning to cheaper cable buys when they sought national scope.

Obama campaign officials have said before that, in addition to swing-state buys, they were looking at the possibility of doing national advertising and were looking at a variety of options including cable channels such as MTV and BET and potentially the Olympics.

The buy comes as the Obama campaign continues to set fundraising records. Its decision not to accept federal matching money leaves it able to spend as much money as it can raise. The campaign reported it raised $52 million in June, compared with the nearly $21.5 million raised by his challenger, Sen. John McCain.
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