Obama Overexposed?

Jeralyn Merritt is upset by the news that Barack Obama is thinking about running ads during the Olympics, perhaps spending up to $4 million.

At some point, aren’t voters likely to feel the ads are intrusive? Or at least start rolling their eyes?

I’m getting angry that every time I click on a news site, his face is staring at me from the top banner ad or some other prominent space on the site.

He doesn’t need to do this. We all know who he is and that he stands for hope and change and bringing a new kind of politics to Washington. Monks on the mountainside of Tibet know Obama’s name and his face and his message. Toddlers could pick him out of a photo lineup. We get it. He’s the Democratic nominee for President. He wants our vote. He has my vote.

Does this ad barrage bother anyone else? The last thing I want to see during the Olympic Games is ads for Barack Obama or any politician. Please, can we just have McDonalds, Coke, Pepsi and Burger King? Is nothing sacred?

For one thing, I don’t think Jeralyn is Obama’s target audience. For another, I suspect she’d be less angry if it were Hillary Clinton’s shining face in all those places instead.

This is politics in the media age. Most people know very little about the candidates at this point, as hard as it is for those of us who were tired of this campaign months ago to grasp. Obama is shattering every fundraising record in the book. Television advertising remains the most effective means of getting one’s message out in an unfiltered manner.

There’s nothing sacred about the Olympics, either. It’s just another mega-billion-dollar sporting event at this point. And, were I the kind of person who still cared about the Olympics and didn’t fast forward through ads, I’d prefer to watch political commercials to those touting sugary drinks and lousy food.

Now, whether there’s such a thing as advertising overkill is an interesting question. John McCain, for one, surely hopes so. We’re about to find out.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    For one thing, I don’t think Jeralyn is Obama’s target audience. For another, I suspect she’d be less angry if it were Hillary Clinton’s shining face in all those places instead.

    Both reasonable points, James. But I think her points about over-exposure are well considered.

    Stay with me, here, I’m going to parallel this thing. There is much to compare between Hollywood and political campaigns in general, and Obama’s, particularly so. So…

    Do you remember a musical group called “Looking Glass”? Typical one hit wonder. Actually a hit and a half… “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” was the hit, and their cover of “Jimmy Loves Maryanne” was the half, a few months later. (Personally, of the two I liked the latter better. As sophiticated a pop tune and arrangement as things ever got in the early 70’s. Anyway;)

    “Brandy” was a great pop record, and insanely popular. There was hardly a day when you didn’t hear it coming from about every station for that entire summer. there were of course several problems… as far as the group went, they wanted to be hard rockers and that was still 99% of their playlist when Brandy came out, forcing them out on the road. So it was that when the older folks…the ‘Middle of the Road’ music types came out to hear the band, they were esstentially shocked to find most of their stuff sounded more like Deep Purple than Tony Bennett, certainly not the sound that the majority of the concert goers expected, having only heard a few tunes of heirs previously. That coupled with the over-exposure of “Brandy” and support for the band dropped like a stone, And essentally they were never heard from again. (Until some of the band members reformed as “STARZ” which turned out to be another one hit wonder…”Cherry Baby”…. that’s another tale)

    The connections I’m making here: At some point over the summer, Obama and his portrayal of “Superstar” is going to get old with the voters. People will simply grow tired of the man. Add to that, he’s not the man that those repeatedly showing us the brief snippets of glory would have us believe he is. That’s going to come out more forcefully, as well.

    As with the group I mention, that’s a deadly combo. The question becomes, where in time all this starts generating the very predictable pushback from voters.(Perhaps McCain is wise to sit out the second half of the primary campaign, allowing Obama to get more than his due of spotlight? As you say, James, we’ll see.)

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m not so sure. Is it the singer or the song? There are some people who like the song so much they don’t care how often they hear it or who’s singing it.

  3. Bithead says:

    Possibly, Dave…

    Certainly, with the Democrats, to extend the metephor, that has traditionally been the case. But the Move On crowd and the Hillary Army bring unstable elements and new loyalties to that scnario. Personal loyalties, held above party loyalties. That’s fairly new, for Democrats; this year I suspect the usual party disciplne will break down at levels we’ve never seen before, due to the 50/50 split over Clinton. In short, I’m unconvinced that appeals to party unity are going to cut it this time. All for one and one for all strikes me as a losing combo when you’re talking to what amounts to a group dedicated to nihlism.

  4. Bithead says:

    Which, I should add, would seem to play into James’ point about “she’d be less angry if it were Hillary Clinton’s shining face in all those places instead”

  5. Hal says:

    All for one and one for all strikes me as a losing combo when you’re talking to what amounts to a group dedicated to nihlism.

    You really are a treasure. it’s going to be a personal pleasure to see all your bizarro assertions and conspiracy fantasies shattered as we move to Nov 8. Really, it’s going to be a pleasure to see.

  6. Bithead says:

    So, we’re to discount the polling data on the subject, then, Hal?

    Based on…. well…. what, exactly?

  7. Hal says:

    Show me the polling data on “nihilism”. I mean, we both know from 100% of the past conversations on this that you won’t bother to do so, but I’ll keep asking.

    Geebus. Nihilism? Yea, I’m sure that’s a phrase that’s completely associated with MoveOn and the democratic party.


  8. Bithead says:

    well, let’s look at the word.

    an extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth.

    Truth, after all, is whatever Democrats say it is.

    Rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief.

    Well, yeah… that works too.

    The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.

    uh… Yeah, that’s Democrats. Gotta tear down traaditional America to ‘improve it’.

    I don’t deny that the word has other connotations. But these certainly apply to the left, today.

  9. yetanotherjohn says:

    Don’t forget, some of Obama’s biggest defeats in the primaries were in states that he out spent Hillary by 10 to 1. Maybe part of that was the face of Obama starring at people from everywhere. Obama started to slide in the primaries when the presses fawning had gotten so bad, even SNL did a skit on it. He became the punch line to the joke. Buy enough media exposure and he can recreate that moment again. And then the more exposure, the more he becomes a joke.

  10. Hal says:

    Suskind: He says, you know, “You, Suskind, you’re in what we call the ‘reality-based community'” — that’s actually the term he used.

    I said, “The WHAT?”

    He says, “The ‘reality-based community’.”. He said, “you all believe” — now let me see if I can get this right — “You all believe that answers to solutions will emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.”

    I said, “Yeah… YEAH, OF COURSE…”

    He says, “Well, let me tell you how we really see it. You see, we’re an empire now. And when we act, we kinda create a reality. Events flow from our actions. And because of that, what we do is… essentially… we act, and every time we act we create a whole new set of laws of physics, which you then judiciously study for your solutions, and while you’re doing that we’ll act again, promulgate a whole other set.”

    Janine Garofolo: “So you throw a rock in the pond, and the ripples go out…”

    Suskind: And this guy said, “and that’s where we’ll stand ultimately; you’ll study us, and we’ll act. We’ll be the actors, and you will study what we do. And if you’re really good — on good behavior — maybe thirty years from now one of us will visit that graduate seminar you’ll be teaching at Dartmouth in your tweed blazer.” That’s the thinking.

    Yes, Bithead. We’re the nihilists.

  11. Bithead says:

    Don’t forget, some of Obama’s biggest defeats in the primaries were in states that he out spent Hillary by 10 to 1

    I know, but I’m being kind. I’ve found that hittng them with too many supporting facts tends to confuse them.

    Yes, Bithead. We’re the nihilists.

    Ah, yes, Err America as a source for this and Suskind as a source for anything whatever. It’s a good thing you don’t really exist. {/snark]

  12. Hal says:

    Laugh while you can, monkey boy.

  13. Bithead says:

    Well, I do.
    You are, after all…. what was the phrase?… Ah, yes… Endlessly amusing.

  14. Hal says:

    The whole “I know you are but what are you” really is childish. But I guess it’s all you’ve got so I should be charitable.

  15. Michael says:

    Everybody hates negative ads too, but the fact is they work. If running more ads gets Obama more votes (or McCain less votes), then Obama will run them regardless of whether people like watching them or not.

  16. Michael says:

    Truth, after all, is whatever Democrats say it is.

    And Democrats are whatever you say they are. Sure makes it easier to disagree with us them way, doesn’t it?

  17. Triumph says:

    Listen, Obama is a Liberal so of course he’s overexposed.

  18. Navin says:

    I must admit I’m starting to feel like I’m getting Obamassaulted. In particular, his voice has begun to bug me a little: the way he ends of sentences with unresolved, raised voice inflections, which used to strike me as nostalgic, now just sounds affected. I think the danger of overexposure is real. Now that the primary race is over, I don’t want to hear about it, or anyone who was involved with it, for a couple months. And yet Obama’s face is being plastered across the screen a half-dozen times a day. Enough already. The real problem, I think, is that Obama may no longer be in control of his own media exposure anymore. I’m not sure the current flood of stories about why he loves his wife and what his last dump smelled like are in his power to stop. I’m not even sure they’re in Oprah’s power to stop.