Category Archives: Politics

In part three, I continue my discussion of McCain and his ineffective use of the web. This is part three of six.

Excluding 50% of Americans
John McCain’s website does not have a ‘Students for McCain’ webpage. In fact, last Spring he had only three people group webpages: Lawyers, Women and Veterans for McCain. But still today, there’s no “Students for McCain” webpage. What gives? This would lead one to believe that McCain doesn’t value every voter, and only values his three favorite type of voters: Women voters, Veteran voters and Lawyer voters. Sure, these three groups are probably the most likely of any group to actually go to the polls and vote… but why exclude 50% Americans?

A Logical Approach with a Community-Driven Approach
Barack Obama didn’t exclude all non-women, non-veterans, and non-lawyers. He has webpages for many ethnicity’s, sexual orientations, and political parties. He also includes: People of Faith, Kids, Seniors, Small Business, Labor etc. Most important to my discussion is that he has a ‘Students for Obama’ webpage. This, combined with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter social networks is giving Obama a huge edge with getting young people’s attention. Within each page there are blog posts particularly relevant to that category. That is brilliant because now someone in that category can ‘comment’ and discuss issues with people like them. Building a community is central to Obama’s website; from his various blogs on people webpages to ‘MyBO’ where voters can get involved locally through events and more.

Shaping Up (kind of)
Sometime in the past few months (late Summer), McCain decided that he should have pages for more people than just women, lawyers and veterans. Maybe he finally realized that not everyone in American fit into those groups. I’m theorizing that he took a gander at Obama’s set of people groups and trimmed it down a little, leaving out many important people groups. Ironically some of the them being: LGBT and ‘Students for McCain’. He might not agree with LGBT voters or even Student voters but you got to at least try and reach out to them. He strangely added ‘Bikers for McCain’ (probably because Cindy McCain is a biker girl). He also has ‘Americans of Faith’ and thought it necessary to add ‘Catholics for McCain’ as if Catholics aren’t American with faith. He’s even got a news article on that page titled “Obama’s Catholic Problem.” Maybe Obama should put a news article up titled “McCain’s Young Vote Problem.”

He’s got people group pages, but their iss no community aspect.
These people group page on McCain’s website don’t offer community opportunities. For example, Catholics can’t interact with other Catholics for McCain while on the ‘Catholics for McCain’ webpage. So the result is saying: “See, I can write articles pay people to write articles about Obama’s Catholic problem and get pictures taken with Catholics”; instead of saying, “Here are some important issues to Catholics and a blog/comment section so you can discuss it with other Catholics.” The side columns to any people group webpage on McCain’s website offer non-related items, while Obama’s side columns offer some people group specific steps that can be taken along with non-related items.

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

In part two, I continue my discussion of McCain and his ineffective use of the web. This is part two of six.

As I said in part one, I spent last Spring studying the presidential candidates and how I could create some ‘advertising’ to help one of the candidates. This was when the democrats were narrowed down to Obama and Clinton and the republicans were narrowed to Huckabee, McCain and Romney.

A side-by-side comparison of McCain and Obama's website through time

The Facts
I began looking at web statistics for these remaining candidates, especially the number of Myspace and Facebook friends. We all know that if you want to reach young people, you need to go to where they are most of the time: Facebook and Myspace. There’s a phrase in the Church that says, “God will meet people where they are.” The candidates need to meet young voters where they are: the web (specifically Facebook and Myspace). What I found is that Obama had 800,000 Facebook supporters while McCain had 117,000. Today, Obama has over 2 million supporters and McCain has 575,000 – this has to worry McCain when it comes to young people not being excited for a McCain presidency. Last Spring they were presumed to be the nominees, and yet were getting very different numbers in terms of young support – today is no different. If that wasn’t enough evidence, I looked at website stats from Quantcast.com and 88% of McCain’s website visitors were over 24. Today, Quantcast reports that 63% of his website viewership come from people over 34 years old. Today, McCain’s website draws 4.3 million visitors a month. That’s a lot, right? Well, double that number – 7.9 million – and that’s the number of visitors a month who visit Obama’s website.

I know, I know – McCain’s support lies in the senior citizens of America and they don’t use the web as much as younger people do. But the question will be: Will young people who support Obama via Facebook actually go and vote. Similarly, will seniors who support McCain actually go and vote. We shall see on November 4.

So, as you can tell, McCain has a problem with young voters. Not only because of the web statistics, but also because he’s not speaking to issues directly relating to them. He doesn’t mention much at all about technology, or college tuition. He wants to keep the Internet free (wow-who doesn’t) and for college, he doesn’t offer anything as substantial as Obama’s $4,000 tax credit for students. But I set out to find those issues that would connect to young voters, even if in a very indirect way.

My Small Contribution to McCain
I decided to pretend I worked for McCain and wanted to get young people to vote for him, because I could tell that Obama had the young crowd in the bag… and still does. The reason I decided on this was because I searched and searched and couldn’t find a “Students for McCain” website. No place for students to call their ‘online home’ if they were checking out McCain or were already Republicans. I set out to make McCain seem ‘exciting’ to more young voters.

My work in Advertising last semester resulted in this website: a blog style website that allowed students to interact with the campaign and each other on issues that were important to them. It also highlighted the lighter side of McCain via photos and video (videos no longer work since they were deleted from youtube). This website would theoretically allow students to take action and network with McCain via social networking websites, which was hidden or not there at all on his real website last Spring.

In part three, I will talk about what McCain has done with his website to reach a different audience.

In part one, I introduce the dilemma McCain has in effectively reaching young people on the web. This is part one of six.

As a designer I’ve constantly looked at the candidate websites and tried to imagine how people of different age groups would react and interact with them. These next six blog posts will be a culmination of this research and thought process.

John McCain’s age is not helping him reach young voters. An ineffective (or not as effective) use of his campaign website is hurting him in this area. Simple things such as branding, color scheme and number of times photographs of him are used on a single web page all drastically effect a person’s impression of him as a candidate. McCain’s brand: a militaristic star (seen on the right), is not a good choice in a time when more than half Americans aren’t happy about the wars we are in. McCain’s color scheme last Spring was black, and a little bit of blue. This just enhanced the idea that McCain would be the oldest person to be president if elected. Black, to me, symbolizes death, not ‘Country First’. His biography once had over 10 photos of him. 10 reminders of his age – all were in black and white. He also hasn’t embraced social networking. This could be done easily by making his campaign website a central hub for connecting with him through various social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace etc. Although, I believe he has recently adopted this concept. Good for him.

On the flip side, Barack Obama’s age and central theme is helping him. An effective use of his website is helping him in this area. Obama’s not even THAT young, so it can’t be solely because he is younger. Ron Paul was the second oldest candidate during the primaries and was generating more online buzz than Obama or McCain (for a small period of time). The creative typography, effective circle logo (seen on the right), colors, and key concepts of hope and change have really catapulted Obama. The design of everything involved with his campaign is great. The circle logo is reminiscent of the Midwest. It might be that the first time I saw his logo was on a sign placed in a corn field in Iowa, so I always think that the logo represents a corn field and sunset. The strong themes of hope and change have done well for him, especially with McCain’s lack of theme.

I spent the Spring of 2008 studying campaign websites of all 20 or so candidates from both sides for my Advertising course. I started the project simply researching and finding something I could zone in on. What became apparent was that many of the candidates weren’t attracting the same buzz online as Barack Obama and Ron Paul were. Ron Paul has sense fallen off the face of the earth while spewing the same phrase, “It’s all about the value of the dollar declining.” Obama’s success online and overall has continued throughout the whole campaign. This is apparent in the over 1 million facebook friends Obama had versus his next highest opponent who was Ron Paul at the time, with half as many friends. I forsaw McCain being the Republican candidate, so I wanted my class project to focus on generating online buzz for McCain – I know, it was a tall task. McCain never did and still doesn’t have a ‘Students for McCain’ website, while Obama does.

In part two I will look at exactly what is hurting McCain and his online presence.

I’m in a ‘Motion Graphics’ course here at Truman. Our first project was to use Wonder Bread as part of stop motion animation.

I chose to play on the fact that Wonder bread was the ‘first’ to sell sliced bread and is an american icon. So I focused on another series of American “firsts” – An African American getting the nomination of a major political party. My ad made the 87 year old company, Wonder Bread, a character throughout civil rights movement history and show that “wonder was there all along.”

The music is from the 2003 MO-IL Bi-State Band Concert. It’s titled “After the Thunderer” It was commissioned by our director, and I got to perform in the band under his direction on this recording. Also, this was first time to use Adobe Premiere.

That title isn’t meant to be sarcastic either. I love that the design of Obama’s latest podium front has made the news. Finally, political campaigns are setting a standard in the design world, instead of being the worst of the worst when it comes to design. Obama’s website is the best designed, most standards-compliant and user friendly of any presidential candidate’s website in history (the last two elections). His overall brand is also a cut-above. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that obama’s circle logo resembles a corn field and sunset. Afterall, he did start this campaign in Iowa, the corn state… where he won big. The first time I saw the Obama circle logo was on a large yard sign in Iowa City and directly behind the sign were corn fields.. very interesting.

I think it’s hilarious that people are getting worked up about great marketing and design. We also got worked up about McCain’s lack of great design and color choice – the use of a green backdrop. One design choice was well made and one wasn’t.

The Obama seal is a clever way to brand Obama as a presidential candidate. There were no copyright laws broken. If you look closely, the eagle’s are totally different renderings, the colors and font choices are different. It also doesn’t say “President of the United States”, It says “Obama FOR President”. The repetitive stars also weren’t used from the presidential seal… that’s more than can be said about McCain’s website and its overuse of stars. I think Obama’s designers need to be hired to redesign the white house website, government websites and heck why not the presidential seal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with beautifull design in a political campaign.

McCain seems to have taken notice of how awesome Obama’s website design was and revamped his whole website a few months ago… before then he had no direct links to his social networking profiles (bad choice to leave this out – maybe that’s why mccain has 9 times fewer facebook supporters than obama who has over a million) I spent the semester researching the presidential candidate’s websites and how to reach young voters with them. I focused on McCain and getting him the young vote through a “students for mccain” website. 

Lastly, I think Obama’s website and overall branding resembles who he is: hopeful, ready for change, different than usual. His website resembles these phrases through his color scheme (not typical red/white/blue), spotlight effect with white highlights around the edge of the page and around photos of people, great typography and attention to detail with his pages for states and people groups (he uses imagery specific to each state and people group). His logo area of the website is very clever – using a photo of him looking up, in a hopeful manner.

What are your thoughts?

I’ve never really followed politics. I guess I started when I did a website for John Howser. The conversations we had about his opponent and other politicians made me intrigued. Then I began to follow the Kerry/Edwards campaign and even had their bumper sticker (*gasp!). I shook Edwards’ hand at a speech in Cape Girardeau, MO that I was invited to by Howser.

Then began the primary season for the 2008 Presidential Election. The first nominee I had heard of was Ron Paul and I almost began to like him, until he didn’t stop speaking in his grumpy, whiney voice all the time. Then I heard Huckabee answer a question about faith and politics at a debate. I was sold on Huckabee the moment after he finished answering. I then joined his email list and checked his website almost daily to find out more.

Well, grandpa McCain became the nominee and everyone dropped out, except Ron Paul who is off in his own little world where every problem in the US revolves around “the value of the dollar dropping” and I was not going to support McCain for many reasons.

Then I remembered that one youtube video I watched of Obama speaking at the DNC. You know, the one where he blew everyone away. I began learning more about Obama and was convinced that he’s got something special. People say that it’s not all about oratory skills, but it sure helps and oratory skills are definitely going to hurt McCain, since he lacks in that area. I heard someone say that Obama isn’t running a campaign, he’s leading a movement. They said that as if it was a bad thing. I think it’s great that he’s got a targetted message and wants… you guessed it “Change”.

I went to the Des Moines rally where Obama declared that he had a majority of delegates. I also shook his hand which was pretty cool.

A little about McCain
I spent the semester in Advertising research John McCain and how he could better reach out to student/young voters. There aren’t many routes he can take, without changing his message, beliefs on the issues and getting younger. My research showed that he has one of the lowest number of facebook supporters of all the candidates, his own website also receives traffic from primarily 30 yr olds and above. If you compare this to Obama, it’s amazing. Obama has almost 1 million facebook supporters and his own website draws people from every age group at an equal rate. So my project was to create a “Students for McCain” website that wasn’t so depressing as his current site. The results are here. Before McCain recently redesigned his website it was almost all black,gray and dark blue. Not the color scheme I would choose for the oldest candidate running for the highest office in the US. I also tried making the site full of interactivity, which his old design lacked. It is a blog-style site so people can comment and have a community among themselves. There is also a video player of his cooler appearances (most of them have been taken down from youtube since the project ended)

Did anyone see this speech?

He seems so flat and angry in this speech. Not to mention, he can’t seem to read the teleprompter. To me he seems so old-school politics. My favorite is when he says “Now that’s not change we can believe in” a few times he always smiles and chuckles softly aftewards. It’s kind of creepy. I also think it’s funny that he pauses when he wants applause, and there’s an awkward pause when he does so.

What are you thoughts on Obama’s movement that is drawing millions and McCain’s lack of a movement?