Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Viral Campaigning -- The Anti-Hillary Video [UPDATED]

[Update: Hillary responds -- and the anti-Obama video. See below.]

I'm late to the game on this one, as many bloggers (including my buddy The Zero Boss) have already registered an opinion, but this seems to be something that is still gaining momentum in the public sphere.

The controversy centers around a viral video on YouTube that uses the classic 1984 Ridley Scott commercial for Apple and revisions it with Hillary Clinton as the Big Brother villain. Obama's campaign denies any connection to the ad, but his website is listed at the end of the ad.

Here is the original 1984 Apple commercial that aired during the Super Bowl:

And here is the new anti-Hillary ad, as posted at YouTube:

The mainstream media have picked up on this and are offering their views. Of course Fox News had to have an opinion on this, implying that Clinton's supporters might think Obama is behind the ad despite denials from his camp.

This is from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The video is a sophisticated new take on director Ridley Scott's controversial Apple ad that caused shock waves with its premiere during the 1984 Super Bowl, and shows the same blond young female athlete running with a sledgehammer toward a widescreen -- where an ominous Big Brother figure drones to a mass of zombielike followers.

But this time, the woman is wearing an iPod -- and has her candidate's slogan on her chest. And the Big Brother -- whose image she defiantly smashes with a wave of her sledgehammer -- is Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner.

The tagline for the attack: "On Jan. 14, the Democratic primary will begin. And you'll see why 2008 won't be like 1984."

An updated Apple symbol -- transformed into an O -- is followed by the dramatically emerging logo: BarackObama.com.

Veteran San Francisco ad man Bob Gardner, whose work has included political campaigns for former President Gerald Ford, said the video is "very powerful" in its efforts to call for a generational change in politics.

"It puts Hillary spouting cliche nonsense to the drones -- while a fresh face breaks through," he says. "It's old versus new."

That theme -- reflecting a generational change in the relationship between media, politics, candidates and voters -- suggests that "Hillary 1984" could have the iconic power with the 21st century political generation that another classic political ad called "Daisy" represented to Baby Boomers, says Leyden. That 1964 spot for President Lyndon Johnson -- featuring images of a child plucking a daisy, which morphed ominously into a nuclear mushroom cloud -- battered GOP presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater because it, too, portrayed "a shattering of the whole world" in both political leadership, and media.

Personally, I like the ad. It's creative, it's energetic, and it does represent a drive to see a new form of politics -- a new kind of leader. I was once hoping that Hillary Clinton might be the real deal as candidate for president, but her pandering to the right and support of the Iraq War have convinced me that she is nothing more than politics as usual.

I'm still undecided about Obama, but he seems to have potential. However, the fact that so many young people seem to be excited about him as a candidate is good for politics. The youth vote has been sorely lacking in recent years. If a candidate get them motivated to participate, that sounds good to me.

What young people bring to the table, that older voters generally don't, is an understanding of new technology and how to spread information. This ad -- even though the age of the poster is listed as in his fifties -- represents the use of viral memes for the political process, a way to capture large ideas in compact ways that can be easily passed around the internets.

Viral campaigning may be the next step in activist politics. I doubt that it will be too long before we see something similar in the GOP side of things.

Many of us feel that we have lost any real voice in the political process -- that big money holds all the power. What viral campaigning might represent is the re-emergence of the voice of the people in shaping the debate. But then, I might just be engaging in wishful thinking. Still, it's nice to dream big.


From The Nation blog:

It seems like everyone has weighed in on the anti-Hillary 1984 video except for Hillary Clinton. Now she's jumped in the fray, emphasizing the positive in a Tuesday interview with the local news channel NY1:

"I think anything that drives interest in these campaigns and get people who otherwise are not at all interested in politics, I think that's pretty good... I might quibble a little bit about the content, but if we get more people, especially young people, thinking about politics, I'm happy about that."
The article also links to a new anti-Obama video, which is not nearly as effective as the anti-Clinton video, even though it uses the same motif. See for yourself:

Oh, what fun this campaign is going to be.

No comments: