Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Co-producing a campaign

There is perhaps nothing more persuasive than a message than comes from someone you feel to be similar to yourself. We are persuaded most often by our friends and loved ones, they have a profound impact upon our attitudes and behaviour on a daily basis; most of the time we are unaware of that impact. Many campaigns attempt to replicate the power of what, I guess, can be called peer pressure. The Conservative party wall of videos, the fan pages on Facebook, all attempt to get the public to endorse a party on the basis that people like them are already doing so.

Barack Obama is doing the same with the issue of Health Care Reform. The campaign ran a competition to make a video that would promote the campaign. The YouTube site claims there have been "nearly 1,000 submissions, 20 amazing finalists, and more than 3 million views" for the call. The have selected a winner: Eric Hurt (the video is below)

The winning video is very simple in its message. It links well to the theme of Organising for Amwerica by offering short future narratives from children on what would happen if they have an accident and need medical care. It is a message to get people to donate to the campaign, to lobby on behalf of the campaign, and so to put pressure on elected representatives to pass the reform bill. The power of this is the people who are backing the campaign, this one video has received 70,404 views and received 135 comments since it was posted eight hours ago; scanning the comments they are all positive about the campaign. The tactics of soliciting people's input and posting on a social network allows the supporting citizens to co-produce the campaign messages and make the camapign belong as much to the people as to Obama. Whether they represent a majority or not it gives the impression of a movement; whether there are any lessons that can be drawn from this and applied elsewhere is difficult to say. Obama has a unique approach to being President, if he wins this campaign he may well be seen to be the ultimate advocate of people power; if not he may be able to shrug this off as a brave attempt to back the people that was thwarted by vested interests on Capitol Hill. It seems that co-production is not just persuasive, but also offers a win-win zone for Obama and the people of the US.

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