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March 22, 2007

2008's Rogue Element - The Candidate Evangelist

By Li Evans

Right off the heels of my review of the Republican Front Runners' websites, news of a video launched on YouTube that spoofs the famous Apple commercial appeared to be the hot topic on the campaign trail in the last two days.  The video's intent is to portray Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton as "big brother" and at the end, there's a mocked up apple logo - turned into the shape of an "O", with www.barackobama.com underneath it.

Of course Barack Obama's camp got the blame for creating this online guerrilla marketing piece, and of course the Obama camp denied involvement (they of course did not deny laughing about it).  Turns out, they really didn't have anything to do with it.  It was just a supporter, ironically, armed with ... of all things, a Mac and its powerful video editing software.

Phildevellishuggintonpost So who is this guerrilla political marketer that created the "Vote Different" video?  Well the Huffington Post got the scoop on that.  His name is Phillip de Vellis, and he contends that he's proud of what he did.  He was employed by Blue State Media that does provide services to the Obama camp, but he resigned from that company.  Blue State Media, however, contends that he was fired.

This campaign is beginning to shake out to be one where these candidates are going to have to become more technically savvy about monitoring their reputation online, or make sure their online marketing staff is that savvy.  What's probably the most telling about all of this, was the fact that it was someone, who wasn't paid for their efforts, they were just a staunch supporter of one candidate.

Soapbox With technology making it quite easy for "the common folk" to get their voice heard as well as social media giving anyone the easiest platform to speak up, these candidates NEED to become mindful of that.  Not only does social media give these candidates a great platform that's a lot cheaper than TV and a great way to reach a segment of the population that they probably couldn't reach before and start a conversation with them, there's something else these candidates are forgetting.  Social media also gives supporters of their opponents a place to start a conversation - one they cannot control and one that could potentially become much louder than theirs.

Do you think that this "1984" Hilary spoof on the Apple commercial is the last we'll see?  I highly doubt it, I think de Vellis exposed a very serious problem for these candidates, the element of the supporters' passion and willingness to express it.  The new "online marketing guerrillas" aren't these overpaid political consultants the candidates hire.  These new marketers are a rogue elements, they are passionate supporters of candidates who don't receive a dime for their creations - and that folks is going to be a major unknown element in the 2008 campaign.  These "Candidate Evangelists" (new term coined here!) are going to be a force and a factor that these candidates need to deal with up until November 2008.


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