Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Serious Business Of The Great Schlep

I thought Sarah Silverman's The Great Schlep (via Mathew) while a bit off colour, was hilarious. Maybe it's because I'm Jewish, and had a Bubie who had a condo called the Green Apple Apartments in Fort Lauderdale or maybe I just happen to find Sarah Silverman funny, but I loved it. And apparently, so did 7 million other people. Another Internet phenom.

But what i didn't realize (because I wasn't really paying all that much attention until this was mentioned on CBC Radio 1 this past weekend) was that the Great Schlep was not just a funny viral video, but rather, it was a strategic marketing response to the very real issue of elderly Jewish voters in Florida not rallying behind Barack Obama.

The organization behind the video was concerned over the lack of support for Obama, and according to the CBC radio interview, linked it back to 18 months of a subversive and anonymous email campaigns specifically targeting older Jewish residents in Florida which suggested that Obama was not only a Muslim, but a radical one at that. From their site:

"In presidential elections, when choosing between a more progressive candidate and a more conservative candidate, Jews overwhelmingly choose the more progressive candidate. Between 1924 and 2004, Jews have given their vote to the more progressive candidates at an average rate of 76 percent. In fact, none of the more conservative candidates has ever mustered more than 40 percent of the Jewish vote, while more than half received less than 20 percent.

Given this history, why is Barack Obama hovering at 60 percent of the Jewish vote, according to three separate polls? Is this all the product of a highly effective rumor campaign, spread through Jewish networks often by well-meaning individuals concerned that they information they received was true? Or is there something more?"

Was there something more? Regardless, the response to the Great Schlep has been impressive with Jews all over the US rallying their grandparents to ensure that Florida not be the deciding vote in an election that will surely be one of the greatest US Presidential races we've seen in a long time.

Our own Canadian election is not immune to the impact of the Web, and no i'm not just talking about Jack Layton being people's Facebook friends. Strategic voting sites like Vote pair and various facebook groups have popped up where people are actually swapping votes in specific ridings with each other, begging the question as to whether or not our foundational systems like our legal and political systems, have the nimbleness to adapt given the speed of change with which people are using these technologies in unexpected and impact full ways.

Did subversive emails impact an entire voter group? Will the comedy site, "The Great Schlep" counter those efforts and make a difference for Obama in Florida? Will internet vote swapping on Facebook determine the next Canadian Prime Minister? Hum...I guess only time will tell but understanding the potential and real impacts that this medium has on our opinions and perceptions may not just be a matter for marketers but also one that could rock us to our fundamental and democratic core.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Real Time Web Analytics