Category Archives: Politics

One Nation, One People from Stephen Emlund on Vimeo.

America is Back from Stephen Emlund on Vimeo.

Social Security from Stephen Emlund on Vimeo.

I Need Him in the White House from Stephen Emlund on Vimeo.

In my Advertising course in college we analyzed many past political ads including Daisy Girl.  It aired September 7, 1964 and seemed to be an effective ad because it drew fear about  Lyndon B. Johnson’s opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater. The ad was created by innovative ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. It only aired once but that was enough to give Johnson the presidency. Today, this ad goes down as one of the most effective political ads in history.  To learn more about this ad go here.

On May 21, 2009 the RNC decided that it could piggy-back on it’s success over 40 years ago and paint Obama in the same dark hue. The thing is: they are just a tad bit too late. He’s already President. You’d think McCain would have thought of this idea during the campaign since he was 27 when Daisy Girl aired. (that was the same year he apparently got in an auto accident that was kept hush hush until recently – interestingly, that article was written on my birthday – october 28, 2008 – crazy!)

Not only is this remake a textbook example of how not to edit video, but every sound-bite is taken out of context and the ‘daisy girl’s’ voice sounds like someone Meghan McCain’s age rather than a 5 year old girl.

For your viewing pleasure!

I have been excited about my chance to vote in this election. I visited McCain and Obama’s website almost every day along with watching numerous CNN news videos and reading stories to keep on the campaigns. I was ready to vote.

I registered in Adair County on October 8. I filled out my registration form with help from voteforchange.com. I had printed the form and was walking from the library on campus to the County Clerk’s office downtown. On my way there I saw a table on the quad that had people registering students to vote and they said they would be turning in all the forms.  Keyword being ‘all’. So I turned in my form to them. I haven’t thought much about registering since October 8 because I assumed I was registered. I had no idea that they usually send a voter ID card, so I wasn’t expecting one. November 4th at around 1:30pm I drove across town to the ‘Moose Lodge’ to cast my vote. I wasn’t on the list or in their palm pilot of registered voters in Adair County. I then drove to the County Clerk’s office to see if they had my form just laying around. No such luck.

The County Clerk told me that there have been many problems with getting registration cards back from the organizations on campus that asked for blank ones. She even said that a group that registered people at HyVee hadn’t turned in even one registration card.

I turned to leave only to run into two more Truman students who were there for the same exact reason.

I spent the rest of the day letting various media outlets know what injustice had just occurred. I wrote a letter to the editor in the INDEX, e-mailed the professor in charge of the INDEX who said they would a story on it (found here). I also sent a news tip to the TV Station in town – KTVO. I was promptly contacted to be interviewed on camara by them. KTVO told my story on the 5:00 news, 6:00 news and the 10:00 news. They showed different video clips of my interview  on each newscast. The 10:00 clip was the best, because it showed how excited I was to vote.

I even tried casting a provisional ballot, but was told by the County Clerk that even if I did, my vote would not be counted since I didn’t have a registration card filled out.

Lesson learned: When it comes to college organizations, don’t rely on them for anything that is remotely important to you.


Photo of Obama right after I shook his hand!

Photo of Obama right after I shook his hand!




In part six, I simply have a list of reasons why Obama won this election.

  • When McCain took the low road with trivial negativity, Obama never slung mud back, he simply continued on the high road – very under control
  • The negative ads by Obama that were run, were about the issues not about someone the other one associated with – We all have associated with people that others wouldn’t approve of, but it doesn’t define us or our character!
  • Obama was all about the politics of hope and change; McCain, the politics of fear, especially at the end of this campaign.
  • Barack Obama excited young voters – 60-70% of young voters supported Obama.
  • Obama was the first black candidate for president, but didn’t run as the ‘black candidate’. That’s the difference between him and Jesse Jackson.
  • Offering a drastic change from the Bush Administration and was successful in tying McCain to Bush by mentioned the number of times McCain voted with Bush (over 90%)
  • McCain’s lack of judgement in choosing a VP candidate. It showed that McCain couldn’t make smart decisions.
  • McCain’s age – We all know, we were thinking in the back of our minds: What if he dies in office and Sarah Palin takes over – does she have what it takes?
  • A unified Obama campaign never had internal blowups or controversy
  • People are drawn to exciting and hopeful candidates, not ones that are on the attack at all times and bring up things that aren’t related to the real issues.
  • Online Campaigning – Obama’s various websites that I mentioned in part 5, the organization, design/layout of his website and how the web was use to organize Obama rallies and events through social networking.

We are all wondering how Presedent-Elect Barack Obama will utilize the web in his presidency. One hint is a website that was launched today: www.change.gov I’m hoping for periodic email updates from a President Obama, similar to how his campaign was.

In part five, I take a look how Obama is getting out the vote and viral advertising.

I’ve decided to change this post slightly from what I described earlier. I’d like to focus purely on Obama and his various websites and viral advertising.

YesWeCanSong.com
The first time I had ever heard of the term ‘viral advertising’ was when will.i.am from Black Eyed Peas came out with the Yes We Can music video. We discussed it extensively in my Advertising course. One thing is true, when advertising is done independant of the candidate it is very good. That’s why ‘Swift Boat Veterans’ were effective in attacking Kerry because it wasn’t Dubya saying these things, it was an independant source. It also works for ads supporting a candidate, such as the Yes We Can video. This video highlights Obama’s great oratory skills and the particular cadence that is very effective with his speaking. I also took Public Speaking last semester and learned that your speaking ability has a lot to do with the silence/pacing you use. Obama definitely has this nailed. I guess you could compare it to how smooth-talking Clinton was. I heard a comedian say recently “You know, Clinton could say ‘I am not here'” and you would think “he’s right, he’s not here.”

 

YesWeCarve.com
Another viral website that was started from four guys not even part of the Obama campaign. The website was designed so well that I actually believed it WAS by the Obama campaign. This website takes advantage of the beautiful design and branding of the Obama campaign and allows visitors to carve Barack-o-lanterns with various campaign imagery on it and submit photos of the lanterns to their blog. Now imagine for a moment someone started “Maverick-o-Lantern.com” What stencils could they provide? A picture of mccain’s face? That wouldn’t work, all those wrinkles would cause your pumpkin to fall apart if you carved that… But I digress. I carved a Barack-O-Lantern and posted it to their website. Mine is found here.

The remaining items are all paid for by the Obama campaign.

FightTheSmears.com
This website was started a few months back when the primary season ended and Obama knew McCain would be on the attack. It basically takes rumors or attacks by McCain or other sources and gives the facts about each ‘smear’. This is effective in that ‘setting the record straight’ isn’t being done on the main campaign website, because if it was, it would seem that Obama is all about dispelling fear and not about the real issues. In this case he can do both at the same time, but keep his main website as place to learn about Obama’s stances on issues. On FighttheSmears.com, one can sign up for email updates on various smears.

Under The Radar
This website is a subdomain (radar.barackobama.com), but treated as it’s own website, with a very different design from the main campaign website. This site goes a step further than Fight the Smears does. This website lets users submit various attacks that are being launched at very local levels (direct mail, etc). The website gives you an interactive map and allows you see where various attacks are being done. This and the previous website does very good job of showing the numerous attempts to suppress support, and can only look bad for McCain.

VoteForChange.com
I registered to vote in Kirksville via this website. It gives visitors a step by step process to fill out info and then it generates a PDF with your info filled in and then you can print, sign and turn it in. I almost forgot to turn it in, but the deadline day, October 8th, I received a robo-call from Michelle Obama reminding me to turn in my form.

Cell Phones and the iPhone
Obama announced his VP pick through text-messaging – although it was leaked hours before sending the message, most people first found out about it from a text message, because it was announced at midnight the night before. Obama even has an iPhone App. I don’t have an iPhone, but would assume that this App is very effective. Any iPhone owners have thoughts on the App?

Video Game Ads
I had no idea that you could advertise in video games, but Obama has done so. Obama has placed billboard ads in nine XBox360 games in ten swing states. Even one more way that he is targeting the 18-30 year old crowd. I won’t be suprised to see my potato chips having political ads in the next presidential election. Picture this: ‘”Vote Palin 2012″ on your chips. Her slogan on the chips can be “Chew on this: I’m just a regular hockey mom”

In part six, I will look at the use of the web in the final days of the election and the results of the election.

I’ve never really been good at pumpkins. Enter YesWeCarve.com I actually did OK with this one. I used a stencil available on their website. I also submitted the photo to their blog… I hope to see it up there soon!

In part four, I take a look at the recent website redesign by John McCain and compare it to his previously all black website.

Beautiful Design
I believe I’ve said this on my blog before. This presidential campaign has largely been about change. Most significantly, a change from really horrible design in political campaigns to truly beautiful design and focused branding, most on the part of Obama’s campaign, but most recently with McCain as well.

Finally, candidates are seeing the value of a great brand and beautiful design. By ‘great brand’ I’m talking about the cohesive theme and logo. For Obama it has been ‘Change’ and ‘Hope’. For McCain it has been ‘maverick’ (or is it ‘a couple of mavericks’?) and ‘Country First’. What I think is even more effective is a theme that gets placed on a campaign by the public. In this case it was in the form of Internet viral advertising, especially the ‘Yes We Can’ music video. I can’t think of a viral advertising ‘brand’ that has been placed on the McCain campaign. There have also been some negative viral advertising affecting Obama such as Internet rumors that, ‘He’s a Muslim.’ As Campbell Brown on CNN pointed out a few days ago “So what if he is a Muslim? Since when was that a disqualifer for president?”

Website (re)Design
The website design for both candidates can make or break them in terms of young vote. Young people are all about hip and cool. That’s what first draws them to a candidate in some cases, then they look at the issues. This isn’t the case with all young voters but for some it is. So how does a young voter remain on a website that is black, gray and a little blue with pictures of people their grandparents age? The answer is: ‘they don’t.’ So as I first visited McCain and Obama’s website you can guess which one I was drawn to more, especially as a designer. A young voter’s life is always ‘changing’ and they usually have much ‘hope’ for their future. And what is it that Obama has focused his campaign on? Hope and Change. What do people want after Bush’s presidency? Hope and Change. What do I want a little more of in my pocket? Change. (haha, get it?)

Before McCain’s website redesign at the end of the summer, it wasn’t successfully keeping young voters there and giving them something to grab hold of. His website color scheme was a depressing black and blue and there were about thirteen pictures of him on his biography page (mostly black and white). That is thirteen reminders of how old he is. The constant replaying of McCain’s POW video on his website didn’t connect with young voters since it is from a war so far removed from our generation. Also, McCain’s stance on the Iraq war is not striking a chord with young people as a whole. For example, the statement about being in Iraq for one hundred years. Overall, I concluded last spring that McCain was not reaching young voters and needed to utilize his website in better ways.

Finally a Redesign for the Maverick
What do you get when you have just one maverick? A black and gray website. Add a younger, less-experienced maverick to the team to make ‘a couple of mavericks’ and what do you get? A website very similar to the competition. I say this because McCain’s website changed for the better about 2 months before adding Sarah Palin to his mavericky campaign. Check out my screenshots of the McCain website next to the Obama website. If I were to just glance at these, I would guess they were from the same campaign. Almost identical blue, glowing white shadows/lights, addition of ‘people group’ mentioned in a previous post. Why would anyone want to go from the deathly black and gray to hopeful blue and glowing lights? It might be that they noticed Obama’s website was well designed, structured and communicated their theme of change and hope. I guess communicating the theme of ‘country first’ is visually depicted identical to that of ‘change’ and ‘hope’.

That, or the McCain campaign generously borrowed design ideas from a better looking website. How blatant can you be? I believe my side-by-side image says it all.

In part five I take a look how Obama and McCain are getting out the vote and recent online buzz (Keating Economics, Fight the Smears, Yes We Carve, etc)