Politics

Gary Johnson’s viral ad a contrast in quality to other potential Republican presidential candidates’

Jeff Winkler Contributor

If the quality of presidential hopefuls’ viral videos directly correlated with their standings in the race, odds would be on Gary Johnson.

On Monday, Johnson’s team launched the former New Mexico governor’s viral campaign effort with a crisp clip that uses a minimalist-chic graphic design style to communicate his message. Johnson’s 30-second clip covers all the issues of the libertarian-leaning GOP candidate with bright colors and a hipster-Muzak background track:


The best thing about the video, said creator Josiah Schmidt, is that it was done on the cheap and took less than a day to make.

“I’m not a rich guy, I don’t have a lot of video equipment or anything,” said Schmidt, who recently began working on the Johnson campaign. “We kind of wanted to see how this one would play and how well it was received. Some comments that were really great saying it should be on TV. So we might do more in that direction. But we do also have guys with Ph.D.’s in communications and videography that are working with the campaign to produce some really nice, high-quality ads.”

“High-quality” ads might not be the way to go, though.

The video Schmidt created contrasted sharply with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Michael Bay-esque viral “campaign video,” by the coolest director of campaign videos since Tony Schwartz made the famous “Daisy ad.” The Pawlenty video, however, was widely mocked and even got the Stephen Colbert treatment.

On the opposite end was Newt Gingrinch’s simple presidential statement delivered via Twitter and followed with an online-only “Special Announcement,” a video about as exciting as an 8th-grade history textbook.

Previously, Schmidt produced a similar Flash-based viral video encouraging the former governor to run and later joined the Our America Initiative, Johnson’s PAC, as an eager volunteer (and former Ron Paul fan). Now employed by the campaign full-time, Schmidt is Johnson’s “social media strategy.” As with most quick, viral videos, Schmidt said the spot is intended to draw in voters surfing the web and its powerhouse clip distributor, YouTube.

Visually at least, it appears the Johnson campaign “gets it.” Blogger Andrew Sullivan posted the video under the title “Yes He Can?” — and the Johnson ad does share elements with those by Barack Obama.


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