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“The Oil Companies Shut Us Down”—Obama Campaign

Posted Aug 6, 2008 by William March

Updated Aug 6, 2008 at 05:42 PM

It was a neat idea for targeting a political ad—hit people with a Barack Obama campaign ad about gas prices and big oil companies on those new TV screens that are appearing atop the pumps at gas stations. But, said a campaign spokeswoman, “The oil companies shut us down,” and the ads never ran.

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.

The campaign planned for Obama volunteers to show up at gas stations across the country where the TV screens have been installed, including City Council member Mary Mulhern at an Amoco station on Fletcher Avenue, and hand out information to gas customers about Obama’s energy plan.

At the same time, the ad, which blames McCain for voting against alternative energy sources and higher mileage standards, would play on top of the pumps. Marsh said the campaign had confirmed the ads would run.

But during the day, the company put out a statement saying they didn’t want to politicize their advertising, and wouldn’t be running the ads.

The company contends there never was an agreement to run the ads—even though the Obama campaign is now sending reporters copies of what it says is an email exchange in which a company salesman agrees to the purchase.

“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,” said a statement from David Leider, the company’s CEO.

“At no time did Gas Station TV approve the campaign or receive ... an “insertion order, which is required to purchase ad times,” he said, adding that the company never received or reviewed the ad.

Marsh said the Obama campaign will be putting out a news release soon detailing what happened.
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. 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.