Saturday, February 16, 2008

Viral marketing is getting political

Apparently viral marketing has a new use that is as strategic as the people who thought of it: viral marketing is now being used as a modern, effective edge for political campaigns. The Boston Globe caught up on this new trend, and by writing an article about it, is really expanding this phenomenon and making viral marketing a more public and mainstream element of our culture.

Campaigns are taking advantage of what the Globe calls "the first-ever broadband-fed presidential race" in a variety of ways. In a more forward, gung-ho competitive approach, Republican Mitt Romney's campaign released a video directed towards competitor John McCain dubbed "The Democrat's Favorite Republican" that highlights certain criticisms and damaging footage about McCain's agenda and beliefs. On a lighter note, Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton created her own web videos, including a spoof on the Soprano's finale in which she "reveals" her winning campaign song. What's great about presidential candidates and their campaign creating their own videos featuring themselves is that it is a great humanizing quality; their videos are on YouTube next to kid's dance recitals and teenage pranks.

The beauty of releasing this type of video on the web is that there is no time limit (compared to the TV limit of 1 minute), there is no restrictions for content, giving the campaigns more leway and enter a level of riskiness that campaigns haven't had before. The biggest upside to viral video? It's free.

Whether or not the videos persuade voters to lean one way or another, one thing is for sure: they are undeniably visible. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that almost a quarter of the US population has seen a campaign-related video online. That quarter of the population consists of about 41% of people under 30 and 20% of people 30 or older. Considering that these age groups, particularly the under 30 demographic, is more politically-conscious and influential in the election than ever before, these numbers are incredibly significant.

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