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Obama’s Olympic Advertising Buy

USC’s Martin Kaplan speculates on the reasoning behind Obama’s $5 million in Olympic spending.

When the Beijing 2008 Olympics start airing this week, there will be a splash of Obama in the mix. The Barack Obama campaign is spending $5 million on advertising during NBC’s Olympic coverage. According to an AdWeek story, this is the single biggest purchase of broadcast network ad time by a presidential candidate in several decades. USC’s Martin H. Kaplan, a political communication expert, evaluates the strategy.

“I’m intrigued and puzzled by it,” Kaplan muses. “I don’t think that the programming context — the Olympics — much matters; it’s about the audience demographics. This is a national, ‘event’ buy, whereas most general election paid media tends to be targeted at swing voters in swing states.

“All I can figure is that the Obama campaign is looking for a media multiplier effect, a way to get people and news outlets to talk about the ads and pay attention to him during weeks when people would otherwise be tuning out the election,” Kaplan says.

Martin H. Kaplan is an expert on presidential candidates, political campaigns, and politics and the media. He is director of the Norman Lear Center and holder of the Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication.
Contact him at (213) 740-9945 or

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Obama’s Olympic Advertising Buy

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