For Better Or Worse, Campaigns Go Viral

October 7, 2010

In the spirit of election overkill, I had planned on listing some of the most impressively bad campaign ads I’ve seen this cycle. I’m still going to do that, but in the process of searching YouTube for this year’s greatest hits, I stumbled upon Campaign Tools.

Apparently, YouTube started offering two versions of Campaign Tools (free and paid) back in June. The standard kit includes a channel, moderation and Insight analytics– standard fare for YouTube accounts. The paid kit includes promoted videos, call-to-action overlays and TV ads online, allowing candidates to deepen their engagement and strategic messaging with voters.

One of the key twists in candidates using social media– YouTube especially– is smaller campaigns (ex. county commissioner, state senate) have gained national attention. In fact, some campaign ads have hit viral status. YouTube has become the ultimate platform for political exposure.

That’s not always a good thing.

Here are some of the most noteworthy political ads to go viral this election season. (Note: View totals were taken from candidates’ actual YouTube accounts. In many cases, these videos have been reposted by other accounts.)

Who: Basil Marceaux, Tennessee gubernatorial candidate
Views: 399,401
Key message: “I want you to put me in this building, the capital, behind me here, so I can do my issues and make you’s all freer than you were yesterday.”
Impact? Marceaux finished fifth (among five) in the Republican primary election with 3,505 votes (or 0.5 percent).

Who: Jerry Labriola, 3rd Congressional District candidate in Connecticut
Views: 1,818
Key message: “Look down. Back up. You’re in Washington with the man your congressman should be like.”
Impact? TBD. Labriola earned the Republican nomination to face incumbent U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s (D, CT – 3rd District) in the midterm election.

Who: Dale Peterson, Alabama Agriculture Commission candidate
Views: 1,849,652
Key message: “Alabama ag commissioner is one of the most powerful positions in Alabama, responsible for $5 billion. Bet you didn’t know that. You know why? Thugs and criminals.”
Impact? On Saturday, Peterson finished third to narrowly miss the Nov. 2 runoff election.

Who: Christine O’Donnell, candidate in Delaware’s U.S. Senate special election
Views: 100,588
Key message: “I’m not a witch. I’m nothing you’ve heard. I’m you.”
Impact? TBD. O’Donnell will face Democratic candidate Chris Coons on Nov. 2.

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Here’s what we know with viral videos: Clever works. Clever piques our interest. Clever gives us something to talk about at the water cooler. But does clever work with political ads? Please take to the comment section.