“It’s certainly a tactic that’s talked about a lot,” said one media strategist, who had a client advertise on ESPN in hopes of reaching Obama during the climate change debate of his first term. “It was for exactly that reason.”

The strategist said the ads can’t be so obvious that Obama knows he’s the intended audience.

“It’s not just targeting Obama, but doing it in a way that is both interesting and will get the attention of the audience, but not so unusual that it will put the client in a bad position.”

Companies and groups that have given the strategy a shot are cagy about discussing it openly.