Political ad replays on YouTube;

Published on


San Jose Mercury News (California)

SACRAMENTO, CA — A 30-second spot for the “Clean Money” Proposition 89 campaign is apparently catching fire in the so-called political echo chamber: the network of alternative, underground, and electronic messaging that drives younger voters to the polls.

The ad, which hit TV markets around the state this week, is the No. 1 political ad on YouTube, where it’s been viewed 16,000 times in less than 48 hours, supporters said. That’s 10 times more than the Proposition 87 ad featuring former President Clinton.

And it’s gone even more viral since its debut. It’s being featured on one of the most popular political Web sites in the country: Crooks & Liars.

The clever imagery of the ad — a giant piston, representing corporate-financed ads squashing people — tries to drive home the message that political ads are pounding people into submission. Proposition 89, the ad says, will put a stop to them by limiting contributions and publicly financed campaigns. Supporters hope it will awaken the apathetic voter; polls show the proposition trailing significantly.

“I don’t know if we’ll pull this off,” said Bill Hillsman, who created the ad and is the media consultant for Connecticut senatorial candidate Ned Lamont’s insurgent campaign against Sen. Joe Lieberman, “but if the spot goes out enough, people will say this is how I feel, and if for no other reason but this, I’ll go out and vote.”

Joe Trippi, the San Jose State University graduate who helped revolutionize the convergence of politics and the Internet as former presidential candidate Howard Dean’s campaign manager in 2004, said the ad “really captures” the mood of the voter.

“It’s the perfect spot,” said Trippi, a consultant to the Proposition 89 campaign. “It helps create the echo chamber between the Internet and TV that it will need to make that big move. This is getting moved around pretty virally right now.”

“Clean Money” advocates are hoping to create a buzz in the latter stages of a campaign that has had difficulty taking hold with voters. Two-thirds of voters said they opposed the measure in a September poll. Opponents said voters won’t buy it.

“The irony is this ad is no less deceptive than the ads they condemn,” said Robin Swanson, spokeswoman for the No On 89 campaign. “The only thing that would be different is you’ll still see all the negative ads. You’re just going to be paying for them.”

Swanson derided supporters’ glee over the Internet wave washing over the ad.

“Sixteen thousand hits? That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 4 to 5 million people they’ll need to convince,” Swanson said. “Everyone heralded the netroots as the next great thing, and you saw it propel Howard Dean initially. But when it came to translating it to votes, it didn’t happen.”

But others contend that an ad that gets alternative play is propelled further by word-of-mouth, or what Hillsman calls “peer-to-peer outrage” media, like the Internet and blogs.

“We’ve learned from working with underdog and insurgency campaigns that if you do an ad that people are watching (on the Internet),” Hillsman said, “you get a multiplier effect that makes it three to five times worth the amount you paid for it.”

Hillsman’s ad campaign for Lamont was the first political effort to tap into the YouTube phenomenon. YouTube, which was recently acquired by Google, is one of the largest and fastest-growing free video sharing Web sites.

To view the ad, “Stop the Pounding,” go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAXsIs5ouX8&eurl=.
Contact Steven Harmon at [email protected] or 916-441-2101.

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