Every campaign season has its corporate demon. In 2002 it was Enron, in 2010 it was Lehman Brothers and BP.
There’s a new scapegoat this year, with spending higher than ever.
As we report on Bloomberg Television today, one of every 10 political TV ad dollars has gone to spots hitting the financial services sector — $91 million of the $897 million spent between mid-April and mid-September, according to data compiled by Kantar Media/CMAG.
President Barack Obama’s campaign has been the single biggest spender. One ad alone has $22 million behind it, hitting Republican Mitt Romney for saying that he would repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulations and “roll back regulations on big banks.”
All told, $65 million in ads have referred to “bailouts,” regulations and bonuses, corporate tax breaks. Some have singled out companies — such as Bank of America, Citi and Goldman Sachs, by name or logo.
And it’s not just Democrats — the Republican National Committee spent $6.4 million on an ad criticizing Obama’s economic record — hitting him for driving up the debt by aligning him with the federal government’s bank bailout, showing an image of a Wall Street sign.
What about the real four-letter word of this election cycle. Bain?
Obama might not have mentioned Bain Capital, the firm where Romney made his fortune, in the debate last week, but for anyone in one of the handful of swing states where the campaigns are fighting hardest, the Obama campaign is saturating the air with the private equity firm Romney founded — with $26 million spent in ads slamming Bain. The president’s campaign and the super-PAC supporting him account for 99 percent of that spending.
Bain has sustained more negative political advertising than BP faced in 2010, when $25 million went to targeting the company that year for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP actually provided a template for he financial sector on how to respond to the attacks.
The company spent $229 million in TV advertising responding to the criticism – and granted it had to deal more than mean campaign ads. But Kantar estimates the sector could be looking at nearly $1 billion to rehabilitate its image after the 2012 campaign.
Here’s the newest from Obama: Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay… and Big Bird: