With midterm elections approaching, help us make everyone smarter about the economy. Donate Now
Marketplace Scratch Pad

Who says there’s no advertising?

Scott Jagow Apr 13, 2009

There may not be as many TV ads for toothpaste or breakfast cereal, but Politico points out the “avalanche” of issue ads on cable TV. Lobbyists, unions and activists have spent $270 million on advertising just since President Obama took the oath of office.

From Politico:

West characterized the heightened pace of issue ads as something of an arms race in which business and conservative groups are struggling to keep up with well-funded liberal interests including MoveOn.org, the White House-aligned Americans United for Change and the Democratic National Committee, which have placed major ad buys pushing Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan and $3.5 trillion budget…

“You could be talking about a billion-dollar year, because the pace of legislative activity is not going to slow down during 2009,” West said. “Everybody recognizes that this is the year for action, and Obama is pushing full throttle on the accelerator.”

I guess these groups are sticking by the old advertising maxim, you have to spend money to make money. There’s so much government funding on the table right now, and so many issues up for grabs, you’re either top of mind or you get lost in the shuffle. Paul Begala, a former a political adviser to former President Clinton, says Obama has to be thrilled with all the campaigning:

“There is so much more energy on the progressive side now than there was under the last Democratic president,” Begala said. “I would have given anything back when I was in White House to have the Center for American Progress, Media Matters, HCAN [Health Care for America NOW!] and Americans United. I would have given anything for that.”

What I want to know is where this ad money is coming from, but most issue ads aren’t subject to federal reporting requirements, so you generally can’t find out that information.

Kai Ryssdal will talk to Politico’s Ken Vogel about the issue ad avalanche on Marketplace PM.

Here’s an example of one ad from the group, Conservatives for Patient Rights:

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.