Justin Germany, the videographer for Bush-Cheney ’04, was once featured in an article in the New York Times titled Fuzzy And Out Of Focus. If you know Justin, the title could have been describing him. Instead, it was describing the video work he did for the campaign and the rally video he produced. The article featured the tired storyline of “This ain’t your father’s Republican party video.” The article was actually sort of lame, but Justin bought copies (and may have autographed a few) for everyone he knows.
Well, it looks like the Washington Post circulation may go up today. Justin’s in the news again.
“Less people are watching regular TV — they’re watching more channels, they’re watching TV in a time-shifted environment,” said Justin Germany, 26, a campaign consultant who crafted the video in a few hours. “And yet there is a hunger for this, and that’s where Web video comes into play.”
He’s right, but the article makes it sound like any video is good. The truth is video can be a detriment for a campaign or party.
Look at YouTube. A lot of people push video up, but the vast majority of it is a train wreck. It’s the worst of the worst of bad home video. There is a small amount that is really good, very clever, and very viral. The rest is bound for the obscurity hall of fame.
Now that video has become the hot trend in campaigns, many politicos think it should look like Meet The Press. Consultants that made a ton of money off TV advertising now have to adapt to a different world. What they create often looks like the work they did for TV. It’s overly staged, made for another medium and “shrunk” to fit the web, and talks down to the people watching it.
The same trends that have pushed people away from TV are being embraced and institutionalized in web video by campaigns. They seem to think TV and the web work the same way, and try to apply the old rules to the new media.
Video and the Net can be very powerful. While it’s not actually video, the spread of the first Jib-Jab cartoon was a perfect example. You could tell how often people checked their mail and how long they had been online by the length of time it took them to forward you the link.
But despite the claims about the viral power of online campaign video, when was the last time someone actually sent you the link to one? The real power of online video will only be realized when talented kids like Justin are given free rein to create – free from the shackles of “they way we’ve done it before”.