The 2008 Presidential race could be yet another tipping in the marriage between politics and the Internet. Whereas the 2004 election represented a tipping point in the area of Internet-based fund raising, '08 could be the year that voters really seize control of candidate reputations. Whether it's unearthing that tiny tidbit of dirt that only a few people know about (and even fewer people have access to the evidence) or capturing a candidate in a compromising position on a homemade video that hits the Net a day later, or voters getting to openly rate and comment on candidates at some central tell-us-how-you-really-feel-about-anyone site like the Gorb, 2008 is the year that image management will no longer be the domain of the highly-vaulted campaign manager. Instead, as is now evidenced by a Hillary-smearing video on YouTube that's received over a million hits (and counting), that domain could very well be the voters'. Wrote Jim Kuhnhenn of the Washington Post yesterday:
The 74-second clip, a copy of a 1984 Apple ad for its Macintosh computer, has recorded more than 1 million views, with an enormous surge in the past two days. While the video's final image reads "BarackObama.com," the campaign of the Illinois senator has denied being behind it. Its creator remained anonymous.But for political strategists, ad experts, even journalists, the ad presents a series of other fundamental unknowns.
Kuhnhenn's story refers to a clip entitled Vote Different (embedded below). Not only is it a play on Apple's old "Think different" ad campaign, it's a mashup Apple's old 1984 TV commercial and Hillary talking about holding a conversation (one point of the video is how it doesn't appear to be much of a conversation). Despite the Obama campaign's denial that it had anything to do with it, the mashup is professionally done. (Update 3/22: The video's creator was connected to the Obama campaign and either resigned or was canned, depending on who you believe. Thanks for the tip Sarah!). Either a very talented video producer had a lot of extra time on his or her hands (to make a point) or, the person was paid by someone. Either way, the rules have changed and they will undoubtedly impact the outcome in 2008.
Speaking of conversations, now the question is, given the sort of rich tools that are available to do both, are you go to contribute to the conversation, or just sit back and take it all in?