The Audacity of a $150 Million Advertising Budget

Last night Barack Obama played the role of President of the United States of America on seven network and cable stations.

The ad began with amber waves of grain, long stretches of American highway and scenes of Obama allowing men and women, waving American flags, to touch his hand (watch part one here). Obama then leaned up against his oak desk in his faux oval office and spoke to millions of Americans who really only tuned in to watch game 5 of the World Series.

Obama spent around $8 million total in airtime, and another $3 million in production costs. The only other candidate with the audacity to spend so much in a political ad (aka infomercial aka propaganda) was Ross Perot in 1992.

Obama spoke to America through stories of the middle class. His Hollywood producers found families that have faced some sort of recent or ongoing hardship — such as a natural disaster or a family member with a life threatening illness — and offered to rebuild their home… wait that’s “Extreme Home Make Over”.

No really, Obama used classic American stories that related to the failing economy, education and healthcare costs. His plan for tax credits and a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures flashed in white letters on the bottom of the screen, and twice throughout the commercial glowing words flashed “Live Obama Event Later in Program”.

It was cinematic and pompous. Juliana Sanchez’s story cut out to Denver’s Invesco field during the Democratic National Convention where Obama spoke to millions and then used one loaf of bread to feed the whole crowd…wait that’s another story again.

Even the liberal Associated Press couldn’t take Obama’s theatrics seriously. Titled "Obama’s prime-time ad skips over budget realities" AP writes:

“Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office”.

AP reporter Calvin Woodward goes on to quote Obama from the ad directly, calling Obama’s words “The Spin,” and following up with “The Fact”.

Read Woodward’s report here.

On many channels — a much less expensive — John McCain ad aired shortly after Obama’s. The McCain camp chose to air the “Hes Not Ready Yet” ad. Screen shots of a sad faced Obama faded in and out over the somber voice over.

A wiser choice from the McCain camp would have been to run the controversial “Celeb” ad.

“He’s the biggest celebrity in the world.”