Harnessing Consumer Creativity

Since politics is all anyone is talking about, anyway…

As an avid political junky, I’ve been increasingly frustrated with the antics of the mainstream news media.  The TV anchors, in particular, would rather debate the respective campaign’s talking-points and polls and personality clashes than help Americans to understand and digest the issues.  The issues which, by the way, polls keep telling us that voters want to hear more about.

What are the real differences between Obama and McCain on the Economy, on Healthcare, on Foreign Policy?  Too many Americans are too damned busy to dig for this info, but rather than investigate and report on those policies (their job, yes?), the TV guys take the easy way out, and report on how “we need to hear more details” from the candidates.

Dear CNN, FOX, MSNBC, et al.:  the details exist, gang.  Ever hear of Google?  Aren’t ya’ll specialists in turning complex issues into soundbites and whizzy graphics?

The good news is that the voters are mad as hell and aren’t gonna take it anymore.  And they own Macs, iMovie software and Flipcams. Some of the best political content of the year, so far, has been created without input or sanction by the campaigns.

For example, here’s my favorite Obama campaign commercial of the year.

And, because it’s his birthday, let’s remind Mr. McCain of how he’s celebrated this special day in the not-so-distant past?

He’s busy picking a VP today, but surely the GOP candidate will want to celebrate his b-day at some point soon.  I wonder where in the world he’d celebrate?  Let’s check this Google Earth tour of his 8 homes?

And it’s not just Obama fans who are willing to step-up to the plate.  Here’s a powerful ad meant to support McCain:

All of these videos are powerful – and they did not come from pundits, focus groups, advertising gurus or media professionals.  They came from the People.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that most of these efforts are buried, lost, hard to find.

I wonder if either campaign will do more to harness their followers’ enthusiasm?  Perhaps create “professional” versions of these brilliant, “amateur” efforts?

Last night Obama said that “change does not come from Washington, it comes to Washington.”  At some level, Social Media has been its deliveryman.

Posted on: August 29, 2008 at 10:30 am By Todd Defren
6 Responses to “Harnessing Consumer Creativity”


  • Martin says:

    I enjoyed everything in your blog except -

    “The good news is that the voters are mad as hell and aren’t gonna take it anymore. And they own Macs, iMovie software and Flipcams.”

    Is the a non-subtle advertising message for Apple?

    I hate to say this but the MAJORITY of us DON’T own Macs, iMovie and Flipcams.

  • Craig Oda says:

    Todd, thanks for sharing this. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to your thoughts each day.

    Once again, your blog brings up old memories for me. When I was living in Tokyo and trying to establish Japan as a full-fledged member of the Internet community, I was intrigued by the impact that the Internet could have on democratic governments. The implications of lack of government control and the ability to harness public opinion were staggering.

    Here’s some additional information on the Internet’s impact on democracy.


    Although I spend much of my current life analyzing news media, I still feel that I don’t have enough access to information about our presidential candidates. What does each person really stand for? To me, things are glossed over by a well-oiled media engine. Although, I’m part of industry that propels this media engine, I’m also a voter and simply want to get access to the straight facts without the spin.

  • amy flanagan says:

    I wanted to add that I’m not in favor of regulating the internet. I’m actually not sure what to do. But an excellent example came up this weekend. The media raged and raged on “liberal bloggers” writing about the Palin baby situation. Obama said in no uncertain terms that it is not relevant to the election and should be off-limits. Obviously fanatics are going to blog about sensational items like this, but it kills me that it’s being tied to the Obama campaign because the authors are called “liberal bloggers.” I wish I believed the public was discerning enough to separate this hype from a Presidential candidate who understands that this country has bigger issues to worry about.

  • Brian Block says:

    Thanks Todd. Since the media isn’t doing us any favors by providing distractions mixed in with the important political information, it’s important to hear from the people who are only interested in one thing, the issues and the truth. Too many news stations see this is a chance to make careers and drama, not a government. Social media helps us take back the information that matters.

    However, Amy is right, It’s not enough for traditional media and the public to integrate new ways of delivering and interacting with the news, the content must still be relevant and beneficial.

  • Amy Flanagan says:

    It is exciting times that anyone can create a message and offer it up to the world.

    However, it scares me that these messages are below the radar of any sort of truth regulation.

    We’ve already seen how public opinion can be swayed with images of candidates wearing certain ethnic clothing or just plain and simple lies. I worry that individuals (or campaigns cleverly disguised as individuals) will continue to put lies on the internet to harness the power of fear in order to steer this election.

    I’ve even seen networks cover internet content that is blatantly untrue is the name of covering what’s out there. But that puts the lie out there on traditional media too, for all to see and interpret for themselves.

    Who am I kidding, right? People have been lying for ages in every media. (One could assume Obama and Ayers were BFF according to some commercials.) But this new media is so anonymous that nobody is accountable for the messages.

    At least when Corsi published his book of questionable content about Obama we all knew from whence it came.

    The new world is exciting. Very exciting. But it scares me that brilliant and dishonest people and organizations can use it just as effectively as the conscientious and patriotic soul down the street.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    Very good points and some neat videos in the mix. I wonder if Obama, who’s the more computer literate of the bunch, has ever seen a Google Earth flyover.

    But, hey, if a pending vice president can’t have her official website working at the moment she is nominated for the ticket, that says a lot about the delivery man.

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