Hail To The Money & Marketing…I mean, the Chief.

November 3, 2008 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

In boxing, it’s all about the lean. In heavyweight fights, when one boxer outweighs the other by 20,30, 40 pounds, inevitably, part of the winning strategy is to have the heavier fighter lean on the smaller fighter as they get tangled up near the ropes. Over the course of the fight, the lighter fighter simply doesn’t have the strength to hold up the heavier fighter and ultimately the exhaustion leaves him vulnerable to the knockout punch.

In advertising, often the same holds true. Look at McDonalds. Coke. Nike. I saw a 2008 QSR sales report last week that had McDonald’s sales at $28.6 billion. The next closest competitor was Burger King at $8.7 billion. A decade ago, Coca-Cola’s marketing budget was close to $2 billion annually. Like other heavyweights, huge companies with huge marketing budgets have the luxury of more coverage and a bigger footprint to tire out their opponents. Or in the case of television, drown them out.

If what the media and polling says holds true on Tuesday and Barack Obama wins the election to become our country’s 44th President, you can be sure advertising and marketing will have played a historically huge role in helping him get there. That, and a very effective lean technique.

From the beginning of his campaign, Obama has had an unprecedented ability to raise money and the unbelievable warchest that he amassed has allowed him to spend in excess of $90 million on television commercials that have run day and night around the country since the beginning of the summer. By comparison, that’s more money than John McCain has spent on his entire campaign.

How ridiculous is the disparity? In the first three weeks of September, Senator Obama ran 1,342 television spots in Washington, D.C. a voting district with 0 chance to go Republican and only three electoral votes to give. Know how many spots John McCain ran? Eight.

Both campaigns have been about change. About making America better. About taking the country in a new direction. But history will show, the marketing campaigns to get those messages out have been very, very different. And if Obama wins on Tuesday, we may see a new template born for how to run an election. For years, strategists have wanted to try new things, wanted to shake up the way candidates were communicated. The problem was, nobody had the candidate willing to take the gamble with their career in the balance.

Money and marketing. When you have them both, they can take you an awfully long way. In another 24 hours we’ll know exactly how far.


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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