Cigarette drags, ironic voiceovers, detailed PowerPoint presentations, rodeo footage. There’s no set formula for making a viral online campaign ad. The Internet, it seems, just knows it when it sees it. As 2011 draws to a close, here’s a look at some of the online videos that kept us glued to the screen.
6. The #NERDALERT: Rep. Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity. Infographics were the new, old kid on the block this year. Born from video tools like Motion and After Effects video these moving info graphics helped explain the complex issues present in our national conversation. This video clearly explains the GOP’s debt reduction plan in a way that’s informative, based on facts and easy to understand. The video also plays to the strength of its subject, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R). It is true to his personality, achieving the authenticity critical to persuading audiences.
5. The Masquerade: NRSC Obama’s First Ad. The National Republican Senatorial Committee released this mock Obama 2012 campaign ad to bracket the launch of President Obama’s actual reelection campaign. It was creative, well executed, and most importantly, well timed. Launched just a few days before Obama’s announcement, it seized a critical opportunity to go viral.
4. The Lives of Others: Barack Obama Faces of Change: Emily’s Healthcare Story. One thing political communicators don’t do enough is give life to the stories of average Americans, those who their policy decisions affect the most. Voters make decisions based on a combination of reason and emotion. Too often communicators focus on the former, versus the later. This web ad released by the Obama camp gets viewers to establish an emotional connection with the subjects.
3. The High Stakes Junkie: American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s Rodeo. For all of us in the creative space, it’s a dream when a candidate or client green lights a high-concept ad. It’s even better when you have the budget to film original content. This ad is beautifully produced, with a visual metaphor that effectively sells the message behind it.
2. The Straight Jacket: The DNC’s Trapped. In campaign ads, it’s been proven time and again that using a candidate’s own words can be one of the most persuasive weapons in your arsenal. This ad from the DNC combines a hot movie trailer style with Mitt Romney’s own words, for a provocative piece.
1. The Smoking Gun: Herman Cain’s Now Is The Time for Action. What’s the magic formula for viral videos? It’s clear many factors contribute to these mythological Internet sensations. One thing is for sure: Herman Cain’s ad did it. Say what you will about its tobacco indulging lead, this ad garnered endless earned media hits and countless Web memes. The result was an invariable name ID boost and round after round of earned media—for better or for worse.
Justin Germany is a founder and partner at CRAFT. He previously served as the director of online media for McCain ’08, creator of “The One”, and a Bush/Cheney ’04 eCampaign videographer. Kate Galliers is the media production manager at CRAFT.