Every minute 20 hours of Web video are uploaded to YouTube – so it is imperative that your message and your video stand out. Sometimes it’s not enough to just be captivating – sometimes it’s necessary to be outrageous.
New York Magazine named “the One” the most effective ad of the entire presidential campaign. It was in the Politco’s top 5 McCain campaign ads. Maybe it was because it was viewed more than 1.7 million times online. Or maybe it was because it was featured as the headline on the DrudgeReport. It might even be because it was played almost non-stop on every news broadcast. The combination of “the One” and “Celeb” (created by Fred Davis) changed the entire frame of the race for the month of August. No longer was Jay Leno cracking jokes about how old John McCain was; instead he was a wiseacre about Obama being a messianic, cult like celebrity figure. It signaled a more aggressive TV and Web video campaign that had the Obama campaign reeling until the Republican convention. The video itself was a fairly simple spot, with footage mostly culled from YouTube. But it was the footage of Charlton Heston as Moses parting the Red Sea to reveal Obama’s fake presidential seal – that made it a classic.
This high concept Web video was released by the RNC in 2008. It’s a rough, low production, very viral feeling video.
When Obama went overseas and planned to give a speech to hundreds of thousands in Berlin, the campaign knew it had to get reactions from Berliners. A film crew shot interviews with Germans, Europeans and travelers alike, amassing a healthy collection of absurd sound-bites. Since speed was the ultimate concern, the crew in Berlin compressed the files into cell phone sized quicktimes that were downloaded quickly for edit. The goal was to make the most absurd video possible. The concept: what would Obama’s secret Berlin ad look like? The answer: disco like visuals, euro-trash music, an assortment of odd european characters and of course a German favorite – David Hasselhoff. The video got heavy airplay on MSNBC, including being shown on Morning Joe. It was the RNC’s most viewed YouTube video of all time with over 184,000 views. If you want to know what a viral video looks like, this is it.
Where outrageous humor can break through the clutter a deep emotional impact can pierce through with an even greater velocity.
This video was created for the Bush campaign as a memorial to President Ronald Reagan upon his passing. It uses photos of President Reagan as well as sound-bites and sound-bites from President George W. Bush. It was featured on the homepage of GeorgeWBush.com as part of the campaign’s remembrance and celebration of the life of President Reagan. The video won both a Pollie award and the Golden Dot award for best online video.
Man in the Arena was created more with a feeling in mind rather than a definitive script or concrete theme. It’s an abstract visual and audio celebration of what it means to be a leader. It took a full week to complete. The backbone of the video started with the music, selected after listening to hundreds of tracks. From there inspirational sound-bites were gathered of Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt and of course John McCain. Celestial imagery was added to bring an expansive, larger than life ethereal quality to the video. Man in the Arena went viral once it was released, and remained the number one most viewed McCain video for several months. It was picked up in thousands of blogs, many of which tried to decode the meaning behind the piece, including Time and Ann Althouse. The video had over half a million views.
Courageous Service was one of the most important videos or ads produced for the McCain campaign. In the late summer/early fall of 2007 the McCain campaign had very little money and had been beaten up in the press. It was time to get back to basics — blocking and tackling — and that meant it was time to tell John McCain’s story. Previously the campaign had shied away from fully embracing the Senator’s amazing story, but starting in the fall of 2007 that was no longer the case; his courageous service would become the cornerstone theme of the campaign moving forward. With almost no budget, I managed to be a one man band: interviewing, shooting and editing. The result was a 12-minute bio film that cost the campaign $5,000, whereas a similar project on Bush-Cheney ‘04 cost $100,000 to make. Courageous Service became a central feature of our Web site for not just the primary but the whole campaign. It also became part of the field program with DVDs made available at events in Iowa and New Hampshire. The video was viewed over 800,000 times and generated a great deal of earned media including this article in the Concord Monitor.