Democrats going for the gold!

Will Obama’s $5 Million Olympic media buy pay off?

Did you catch this branding move? Ad Age reports, “In the first significant network TV buy of any presidential candidate in at least 16 years, the Obama campaign has taken a $5 million package of Olympics spots that includes network TV as well as cable ads.”

Beijing Olympics—worldwide event, plus unprecedented exposure to one billion Chinese, no small feat in a global economy. The advertiser line-up includes Visa, Nike, McDonalds and . . . Barack Obama? The boys back at Obama’s camp know: Olympics is good business. But does he fit?

First up, let’s acknowledge that the Olympics are supposed to be a nonpolitical event, bringing together all humankind and kindred spirits to do good for individuals and business. Well, of course, politics have shadowed several Olympic events, and the controversies surrounding the Beijing Olympics have certainly been no different given China’s human rights issues and its repressive policies. And we’ve got Steven Spielberg and other heavy hitters pulling out because of China’s relationship with Situation Darfur. So is the Olympics a smart branding move for Obama?

Well, brand darlings, it just might be a brilliant move, depending on how things go down. Afterall, Obama’s all about winning this election, and what better than to attach yourself to a brand that personifies the glory of winning? And what about sportsmanship? The Olympics is all about transcending everyday politics and reaching for the higher ground of commonality. Who doesn’t want that (theoretically at least) in a leader? And how about overcoming obstacles—Olympic dreams that come true after years of hard work . . . oh yes, that’s a leader we want, someone who understands coming through hard times a winner.

But does anyone else see some tainting of the overall Obama brand (with blatant MasterCard commercial overtones)? So Obama has $55 million dollars to burn, and recently, he has:

– Acquired a newly painted 757 with the Obama sunrise logo on the tail and “Change we can believe in” painted on the sides: Big Ka-Ching! $$
– Gone on a well-covered international trip to the Mideast and Europe:
Bigger Ka-Ching! $$$$
– Spent nearly 10% of all his current money on the Olympics:
Priceless . . . Hmmm.

Many of us will be watching to see if swimmer Michael Phelps reaches his goal of an astounding 8 gold medals (he might do it, kids—He won 6 golds and 2 bronzes in 2004) or to see some memorable advertising (NBC has sold more than 90 percent of its Olympic advertising—and according to the WSJ, NBC Universal will use its coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games to launch a new system for measuring viewership across an array of different media, including video-on-demand, cell phones and the Web). But what will Obama’s message be that ties him in effectively with the Olympic spirit? “Change we can believe in” doesn’t work here . . . could end up feeling like some of the worst in clunky product placement. . .

We’ll see.

Filed: branding, entertainment

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