Friday, June 10, 2005

Virals Just Sound Bad to Being With

I was first confronted with viral messaging on the campaign I worked on last year. The judge I worked for was running a statewide campaign with self-imposed contribution limits ($10 an individual...not kidding. He said, "Money and judges don't mix"). Our web consultant thought: OK, so there's this new tool people are using to spread the word about something. It's all done with e-mail. We film a video. They attach it to an e-mail and off it goes to infect the state full of Judge O'Neill lovin'.

Needless to say, we were super-excited about any idea that would convey the message to voters without having any money for TV. It excited us even more that we could take advantage of permission-based marketing and fuel the grassroots end of our campaign. So we dreamed our dream of an Ohio infected with Judge O'Neill. Sadly, we didn't even have the money to carry out the viral (the judge opted to pay his employees first, which is not how you win campaigns), but I wonder now whether it would have made much of a difference.

My intuition tells me that it couldn't have made up for all of the TV time our opponent had (we were outspent 30-to-1). At least not in 2004. And not in a supreme court race. But, then again, I guess that's the idea: You never know what will happen with a viral.

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