Media consultant to Romney: ‘Keep your mitts off Big Bird!’

Annie Z. Yu Contributor

Big Bird now has a fundraising campaign.

Soon after GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he would cut federal funding for PBS during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, social media consultant Samuel Chapman created a campaign on the fundraising website Indiegogo to raise money for the network.

“I’ve always had a really strong connection with PBS,” Chapman told The Daily Caller. “It had a major impact on my life and on the way that I perceive news and education television in general.”

Chapman, a graduate of University of Oregon and an Oregon resident, said PBS programs like “Sesame Street,” which features the character Big Bird, are important for kids and adults alike.

“I’m sorry Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things,” Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer. “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Alarmed by the comment, Chapman quickly turned away from his television and went online. He found that social media had exploded — Twitter’s official government and politics team @gov said “Big Bird” was tweeted 17,000 times per minute after the PBS remark.

The Twitter account @FiredBigBird gained more than 26,000 followers and was suspended by Twitter twice. A Facebook page called “Big Bird for President” currently has 7,724 likes.

“The rate at which “big bird” was going viral was astonishing,” Chapman told TheDC. “I said okay, I have about an hour to figure out what we can do… to capitalize on that.”

A friend of Chapman came up with an idea of funding a professional video relating Korean sensation “Gangnam style” and Sesame Street. They bounced ideas around and eventually decided to create a fundraising website for PBS instead.

“When that happened, I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, it was 10 o’clock at night, I was leaving for LA at 6:30 in the morning, I hadn’t showered, I hadn’t packed,” Chapman said. “[But] I decided to throw it all aside and just start pumping social media for the next two hours.”

Chapman enlisted the help of a crowd fundraising-savvy friend to help him set up the fundraising campaign on Indiegogo that same night. The campaign has raised $242 so far. Their goal is to hit $100,000, and all proceeds will go to PBS.

“I take this campaign seriously. It isn’t something that I want to just launch and then forget about,” said Chapman. “We’re just kind of riding that wave right now… we’re sitting tight and spreading it around and waiting to see what happens.”

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