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Guest Column: Virals, too, played a part in Obama’s victory

Guest Column: Virals, too, played a part in Obama’s victory

Author | Karl Gomes | Wednesday, Jan 21,2009 7:20 AM

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<b>Guest Column:</b> Virals, too, played a part in Obama’s victory

Can I get a viral? Sure. But that’s not the brief or the strategy. It is the result. It is an outcome or effect of doing everything right. Simply put, saying the right thing to the right people, at the right time, using the right channels, with the most engaging content, supported with the right tools and techniques that will help your audience spread the word.

Just before the US election results were out, a friend sent me an email from CNBC: ‘Obama’s Loss Traced To Karl Gomes’. I opened it to see a video containing a news report blaming ‘ME’ for Barack Obama losing the US elections! You watch it, can’t believe how clever it is, customise it and send it on to loads of your friends blaming them and likewise they were motivated to pass the blame game video exactly like I did. Check out this absolutely brilliant ‘Get Out The Vote’ initiative on http://www.cnnbcvideo.com.

Barack Obama has shown he has already won over the nation’s brand builders (http://adage.com/moy2008/article?article_id=131810). He has been named Advertising Age’s Marketer of the Year for 2008. The campaign did not just create leads, but believers and evangelists, who spread the word religiously building a fiercely passionate campaign.

A classic example of viral marketing is street artist and DJ Shepard Fairey, who created Hope and Progress posters to inspire his generation to vote for Obama. News sites and blogs spread the word about the posters and in two weeks he had a call from the Obama campaign office asking him to create a new image, featuring Barrack Obama with the word ‘Change’, to be sold at the Obama campaign sites.

Net… Net… Viral marketing happens when someone sees, reads, hears and/or experiences something so compelling (that actually helps market your business or cause) that they have to share it. It is not cheap. It requires research, time, planning and proper execution. For Obama’s campaign, the web wasn’t an add-on. Instead, here was a campaign that understood the digital world and was part of it. YouTube wasn’t an after-thought, but part of the strategy.

The campaign was always framed in ‘we’. The ‘Yes we can’ theme in the victory speech and interwoven into the campaign in so many ways, including the songs on YouTube with more than 15 million views (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=jjXyqcx-mYY).

A brand has truly arrived when the community makes it their own. Part of why the Obama campaign had an incredible outpouring of user-generated content is that it provided the community with a simple and focused message that invited them to participate in the movement. Obama-Girls’ videos have more than 12 million views (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=wKsoXHYICqU) and a fan site of Amber lee Ettinger on www.barelypolitical.com.

The obamain30seconds.org UGC contest generated 1,100 video submissions and more than 5.5 million voters. The winner will get to see his/her video broadcast on TV (http://obamain30seconds.org/).

“If you knew that visiting your grandparents could change the world, would you do it?” This is the question that Jewish comedian and Obama supporter Sarah Silverman posed to young Jews in her The Great Schlep video, in which she tries to convince young people to visit their grandparents (or older family members) and convince them (especially if they live in Florida) to vote for Obama. The video was a huge hit, getting 7 million views in just two weeks (http://www.thegreatschlep.com/).

(Karl Gomes is National Creative Director, Digital, Rediffusion Y&R.)

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