The Great Obama/GSTV Ad Buy Disaster

OK, let’s walk through this.

Mistake #1: On Wednesday morning, the Obama campaign announced its new salvo in the energy debate. This one was going to be a deal-changer; IMMEDIATE, UNLIMITED DRILLING… HAH! I kid. No, they announced that they were going to do an ad run on Gas Station TV. If you’re wondering who they are: it’s a company that puts up televisions in urban gas stations so that people don’t have to look at how much money they’re putting into their cars. A gander at their coverage area is the other half of Mistake #1: either Obama’s more worried about a lot of Blue States than he lets on, or he’s really worried about Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Mistake #2: it’s a pretty dumb ad, which is probably why they didn’t run it by the press in the first place last week.

Gets better.Mistake #3: Gas Station Television announced later on Wednesday that no, actually, the ad won’t be running on their network. Their claimed reason? “Gas Station TV was considering running political ads and we have been approached by a few campaigns. We have made a conscious decision not to run political ads on our network” The current score of the claim/counterclaim on this one is: Obama campaign produced what they state is an email trail (including one name – Jeff Hupp, who is Vice President of Business Operations, and who would be involved in this sort of thing for the company) confirming the buy; GSTV has responded that they did not receive an “insertion order”, which I’m guessing means that no money changed hands. Certainly the Obama campaign hasn’t started demanding that it get its money back.

They did pay in advance, right?

Mistake #4: What they did instead was declare that the real reason that GSTV disallowed the ad was because of the oil companies:

The spokeswoman, Adrianne Marsh, said the influence of oil companies apparently resulted in the company that places the ads, Gas Station TV, backing off on an agreement to run them.

“The ad was about the oil companies,” which would get a $4 billion tax break from McCain, said Marsh, referring to the Obama campaign’s take on McCain’s proposed corporate tax cut.

Why was this a mistake? Because Ms. Marsh had to call back to retract:

Update: Adrianne Marsh has called the Tribune to retract her comment that “the oil companies shut us down,” acknowledging the campaign isn’t aware of direct involvement in the situation by an oil company.


Mistake #5: Then they made the same allegation again:

But Mark Bubriski, Florida communications director for Obama, has now put out another statement saying almost, but not quite, the same thing: “Once again, the oil companies and their friends are standing with Senator McCain, the candidate for president who is proposing to offer them a $4 billion tax cut,” he said in a news release detailing the campaign’s side of the disagreement.

Not a Mistake, but Funny: the themes for this seem to be “embarrassment” and “gaffe”… hold up. That latter link had a startlingly direct update:

UPDATE: The Obama campaign says Gas Station TV nixed the ad at the last minute. “Gas Station TV informed the campaign this afternoon, the company will not run ads that are damaging to oil companies.”

Yeah, that’s different enough to call that Mistake #6 after all. Whew.

So, let’s recap. The Obama campaign apparently announced Wednesday that they had a new ad campaign on a regional CCTV network. When said network indicated that they did not, instead of showing a signed contract and/or receipt for payment, the Obama campaign instead gives the media a set of emails that supposedly indicate that an agreement had been formalized, which might make more sense if it turns out that GSTV takes PayPal. Then the Obama campaign proceeds to: accuse GSTV of retracting the ad at the bidding of the oil industry; formally retract that statement for lack of evidence; then make the same accusation again. And all for an ad that was, frankly, pretty dumb: certainly, one that was not deemed press-worthy.

And these are the people who want to run our energy policy for the next four to eight years?

Moe Lane

PS: When are you giving back that tainted Big Oil money, Barry? – since it’s such a burden to the soul, and everything.