Hard News by Russell Brown


Because They Could

American Stories, American Solutions, the 30-minute Obama campaign "infomercial" that screened across multiple US TV networks yesterday is a supremely assured work of political messaging. If parts of it seemed familiar, it's because they were intended to be so. George Stephanopoulos noted that "every single line during that 30 minutes was something that the campaign knows works and appeals to those undecided voters":

There was one point during those 30 minutes where he talked about education. Over images of Obama in a classroom with children, they rolled a tape of Obama's Sept. 9, 2008 speech in Dayton, Ohio:

"Responsibility for our children's' success doesn't start in Washington," Obama said. "It starts in our homes. No education policy can replace a parent who's involved in their child's education from day one, who makes sure their children are in school on time, helps them with their homework, and attends those parent-teacher conferences. No government program can turn off the TV set, or put away the video games, or read to your children."

The campaign knows for a fact that when Obama said those lines during the debate, it had the highest response of the entire debate from voters hooked up to dial groups.

So they repeated it again tonight and that idea was reprised again and again over these 30 minutes.

And then, because they could, the producers rounded out their political advertisement by crossing live to the final two, soaring minutes of Obama's speech at a rally in Florida. It was extremely convincing and far harder than it looked.

You can see it here:

Or, for your collection, grab a high-quality .avi off the torrent.

By way of comparison, McCain yesterday invoked, for the millionth time, "Joe the Plumber" at a rally in Ohio. He hailed Joe in person, but Joe hadn't turned up at the rally.

It's the kind of basic flub that makes it hard for me to understand why anyone would have any faith in the McCain-Palin team to run a large and somewhat troubled country. They're a shambles.

The sleekness of the Obama campaign also, of course, makes our own parties' efforts look pretty daggy. They hardly have the candidate star-power, but, more importantly, they don't have the money.

The Listener recently ran a story speculating on the role of Blue State Digital -- one of two key companies behind Obama 08's joined-up digital media strategy -- in the New Zealand Labour campaign. T'would have been a fine thing, but I gather Blue State would have cost roughly the entire campaign budget. That might have been a trifle risky.

If approved messages aren't your thing, you might enjoy Coldcut vs TV Sheriff's campaign media mash-up, Revolution 08 ("A drum+bass powered all-out AV assault on an American media machine now in psychotic overdrive for the Presidential election"), which comes in three handy sizes: YouTube, iPod-friendly MP4 and full-welly MPEG2.

Also, try Pundit's election quiz, which is adapted from an award-winning US version that polls users on their issues and recommends a ticket to fit.

PS: To the person who phoned 95bFM management pretending to be Herald editor Tim Murphy, threatening BSA action, after I'd been critical in a Breakfast-show phone interview of last Friday's Herald editorial declaring victory for National ... you're a dick.

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