It's official. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign will be among the TV sponsors of NBC Universal's Olympics coverage. 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.
According to NBC's political file, the campaign had initially requested information about 500,000, $2 million and $4 million package of Olympics spots. The network also offered the candidate a $10 million package.
Ben Smith notes, "The buy, AdAge editor Ken Wheaton emails, makes Obama the first candidate since Bob Dole in 1996 to go with national broadcast advertising."
Update: More from the New York Times:
National broadcast advertising buys are highly unusual for presidential candidates. Campaigns usually order TV ad time in local markets (most often in contested states) and sometimes supplement it with cable television buys.
"Both the scale and the scope makes Obama's buy unprecedented," said Evan Tracey, the chief operating officer of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks advertising spending. "This is going beyond the battleground states; this is coverage that the entire country sees. It sort of validates his 50-state posture."
Both Mr. Obama and Senator John McCain, his Republican rival, are setting new records for television advertising spending during the campaign. Mr. Tracey said both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain are spending close to $6 million a week on TV commercials.