Digital Media in Politics

Ready, Set, Action!

Over the past few weeks, some old school politicians have taken it upon themselves to catch up with the times. Hearing that short videos are all the rage with the young and hip members of society, several politicians are banking on their latest videos to gain them much needed attention. Let's take a look...

Say Anything John 

As you are probably well aware, BC residents will hit the polls in a little over 2 months which means the political organizations are in high gear trying to ensure their candidates win. Unfortunately, what this often means is that they are creating new and innovative ways to attack and undermine their competition. After all, politics has never been for the faint of heart. 

One such example of a rather well-planned attack campaign is called Say Anything John. The campaign is aimed at BC NDP leader John Horgan and is paid for by a group called Future Prosperity B.C. Inc. which is strongly linked to former B.C. Chamber of Commerce head John Winter. Ironic how we have one John attacking another... Nevertheless, this campaign clearly has a lot of cash behind it as there is a full website (sayanythingjohn.ca) complete with a cartoon-like video that has been promoted online and on TV. 

Watch the video for yourself: 

The video has gained some significant attention in recent weeks and now has over 55,000 views on YouTube. 

It's all a Game

Early last week, a second video emerged that seemed to counter the Say Anything John attack ad. This video, paid for by the BC Federation of Labour, is aimed at BC Liberal Leader and Premier Christy Clark. It's entitled "It's all a game to Christy Clark" and depicts an animated Christy Clark running through an environment similar to that seen in a Super Mario Nintendo game. However, instead of gaining points for doing good, Clark gains more points by harming others and causing havoc for her constituents. 

Watch the video:

In just over 5 days, the video has garnered over 8,000 views and seems to have gotten a fair amount of media attention. The video is said to have cost $70,000 to create.

Then This...

The two previous attack ads were well-planned and managed to articulate their message in a fairly engaging way. They weren't anything spectacular but they were good enough to watch and possibly share with your friends which is exactly what the campaigns were likely trying to achieve. However, not all politicians seem to have grasped what goes into a successful campaign video. 

The politician I am referring to is Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch. Last week, Leitch made national headlines because of an incredibly awkward video she posted online where she talked about her core values. While the subject of conversation was anything but exciting, it was the way in which Leitch moved around and talked that caught everyone's attention. The eight and a half minute clip is full of awkward moments, long pauses, and was just... weird, very very weird. In fact, one might initially think Leitch is suffering from a sudden medical emergency or that the video is a parody done solely for comedy. Unfortunately, to the surprise of many, the video was deemed 100% real and still remains online. 

The best way to understand just how horrible this video is is to watch it:

I have thought long and hard about why this video was made and how something of this calibre ever made it past campaign management. My only conclusion is that the video was purposely made this way in order to turn all the attention on Leitch. After all, the leadership race is extremely crowded making it hard for any of the candidates to really stand out in the media. If this was in fact Leitch's goal then it appears to have worked given the sheer amount of media attention it has received and the more than 100,000 views the video already has on YouTube. However, I would not necessarily call this positive attention. Remember, Leitch is running on the basis that she will one day soon become the Prime Minister of Canada. A video like this can seriously harm her reputation as someone that can proudly represent Canada on the world stage. 

More to Come

It's safe to say that we are only now just starting to see a new wave of digital media in politics. We have entered an age where information comes and goes so fast that videos and images are often the best way to quickly and effectively spread a message. While this has long been general practise for many marketing agencies, things always seem to take longer in politics. As a result, I have a feeling there will be many more horrific, and a few moderately okay, political campaign videos coming our way in the coming months. 

Braden McMillian