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Spoofing for Obama

By Published on . 4

As the U.S. presidential campaign enters its final four weeks, the fight for political turf and key voters will reach a fever pitch and one key ingredient in that frenzied rush will be the role campaign ads play.

Ad folks have often applied their brand of persuasion to the political process, such as Hal Riney's award-winning "Morning In America" effort for Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners creative director Jamie Barrett recently teamed up with MJZ director Craig Gillespie (Lars and The Real Girl) for a series of "behind the scenes" spoofs aimed to question Republican campaign strategy with a smirk. For now the spots are primarily available on a YouTube channel, but Barrett hopes that's just the beginning.

Creativity spoke to Barrett about the effort, how it started, if we'll be seeing their efforts on TV before November 4th and more.

How did this come about?
The way it started is that Jeff Goodby, Rich Silverstein, a few more people from here and I have been pretty proactive for the last while in looking for opportunities to do something for the Obama campaign. Jeff and Rich have done some things for the Democratic Party in the past, but we're not an official party agency or anything. We just have energy for it and wanted to contribute to the conversation some how.

When did Craig Gillespie get involved?
This specific idea came from Craig. I've know him over the years and I think he got wind I was working on some Obama things and the agency was somewhat galvanized behind that so he reached out to me about three or four weeks ago. He was in the middle of shooting a TV pilot but said he'd love to do a behind the scenes Republican version of The War Room, that doc with George Stephanopoulos and James Carville from the Clinton campaign. He said he had all the ingredients – the set and actors, etc. – if we could come up with some scripts. So we came up with a dozen or so scripts and he ended up shooting five of them, amazingly, in about an hour and a half. They just shot them before a day of real shooting for the project Craig was working on at the time.

Will these be running on TV?
We're hoping so. They've been sent to various people within the Democratic National Committee who have some role in the campaign and, so far, we've got some good response. The political situation changes so quickly, it's almost asking, what's the theme of the day? We're hoping that one or more of these will feel particularly right to them. In the meantime we're pushing it online and just trying to engage as many people as possible.

Which spot best fits the climate right now?
I think the "Maverick" spot is clearly the one most of the moment, post-SNL, post-debate, so we're hoping something will happen. McCain has been throwing that word around for a while but I think with the debates and everything, it's sort of reached critical mass. So I think if this one was on the air right now it would tie in great. It just seems in the moment right now.

Is this the first time you've applied your skills to a political purpose?
I've dabbled a bit in the past but I think, like a lot of people who've been excited by Obama, I've been swept up in his campaign and thought there might just be a way to have a small voice through this advertising thing we do.
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