Sanders: they’ve all come to look for America

Bernie Sanders campaign ad ‘America’ has reached over 3 million views on YouTube, but I suspect that as a TV ad it has deeply effected many more voters.

I first came across the ad in late January when I saw a few people from across the pond sharing it, but I only watched about 20 seconds before exiting.

I was genuinely surprised that smart people I was following seemed to be ‘feeling the Bern’ so strongly that they would share a seemingly dry video that overused stock-looking footage.

I should have just been a little bit more patient, as the very same film which I was so eager to dismiss has since gone viral and become the candidates most popular official video.

It turns out that at about 30 seconds into the minute long ad, the editors have cleverly used a combination of uplifting crowd scenes and audio engineering to stimulate a sense of euphoria and ecstasy from viewers.

There isn’t a single word spoken in the entire 60 seconds.  Nor is there a narrative or any characterisation of any significance.  And yet somehow they’ve created a hugely emotive and inspiring commercial.

It was definitely created as a TV spot, rather than a video to generate a viral response.  It fails miserably in the ‘grab the viewers attention in the first 3 second’ test; a measure which is vital to getting people to stick with a film on Facebook or YouTube.

But like many of the great longer length TV commercials, it builds into a wonderful crescendo and leaves a lasting impression.

As well as the patriotic music, the inclusion of the candidate’s smiling face at the end of the spot is a lovely way to finish and will help dispel attacks from Clinton et al that Sanders is a demon socialist intent on destroying the USA.

#VoteTogether: Bernie Sanders film

Vote Together Bernie Sanders website


In case you missed it: the Bernie Sanders campaign released a phenomenal video – Vote Together – in the build up to the New Hampshire Primary.

The video positions the campaign as not being about a 74 year-old United States Senator from Vermont trying to become President, but about normal people uniting together around their similarities rather than fighting over differences.

That’s some high order shit right there and it puts every other campaign ad I’ve seen so far to shame.

It’s beautifully art directed and uses stirring words from Sanders himself.

There’s also a very cool website with some posters available for activists and supporters to download.

Massive credit to Human, the agency behind the campaign.

UPDATE: I’ve since written a longer analysis of this spot for Campaign magazine –

Sarah Silverman 2012 – Let my people vote

Sarah Silverman has released her long-awaited follow-up to ‘The Great Schlep’ that received huge acclaim in 2008.  Similarly to her previous effort it takes on an unexpected element of the election narrative, is staunchly pro-Obama and provocatively rude towards the Republican candidate.

The focus for the video is new ‘Voter ID’ laws and whilst funny it lacks the political insight (focusing on elderly, Jewish, Florida-dwelling votes) and (relatively) clean-cut gags that made the original so great.

Nevertheless, the video’s message is convincing – the viewer is left with the impression that Voter ID is unfair and that sense of injustice is the sort of thing that gets supporters out on to the door step.

Not as good as the original, but that was a hard act to follow.  This video has gained millions of views in its first week and has contributed significantly to the narrative of the 2012 election.


The Democrat rapid response unit have made a montage of what has been dubbed ‘RomneyShambles’ – the phrase that has been coined to describe Mitt Romney’s thus far ill-fated visit to London.

The phrase ‘omnishambles’ is particularly popular amongst British politicos; it was brought to fame during the BBC’s political comedy “The Thick of It” and was used by Ed Milliband in the House of Commons in April 2012. 

As such the hash tag #RomneyShambles has been delighting the politico twitterati and has been trending all day.  Below is probably the best of the RomneyShamble images that have been doing the rounds.

Obama the socialist joker

Obama joker socialism

This poster is being stuck up around Los Angeles in a guerilla campaign to brand Obama as a socialist.  The poster is incredibly visually powerful, and for that reason it has recieved huge amounts of media coverage world wide.  It doesn’t really make logical sense, in the respect that the Joker (from Batman) was not a socialist. 

But things don’t always have to make sense to have an impact.

Organising in government

Lots of candidates that are elected on a wave of popularity pledge to bring their campaigning and organising frame of mind into government.  Here is the Democrats and Team Obama attempting to fulfill that ambition.  Not a great ad, but the sentiment of “we still need all ya’ll who helped get me elected” is just about carried through.  The triumphant emphasis every time the word “President” is used is probably a bit much, but after 8 years of Opposition, I’ll forgive them that one.

It’s worth mentioning that getting lots of people to sign up to your agenda for government is democratic and ‘grass roots’ to an extent.  But the challenge comes when you have to deal with a situation where a significant portion / majority of the public and your supporters disagree with the direction you’re trying to set and want to halt or change it.

Here is a better advert from Americans United for Change containing similar subject matter:

There’s no emphasis on grass roots activism, but it’s a much more compelling stand-alone piece of communication.  It would be a REALLY interesting experiment if you could isolate the two campaigns mentioned in this post in different areas of the country.  You could measure which approach – low budget TV ad with a small media spend but heavy organising activity v.s expensive animated TV ad and zero campaigning on the ground – is more effective in shaping peoples opinion.