Mr. Rotches: Much, much more. It was nonstop.
It was as much as you could possibly produce
Ad Age : Could you have created another ad if
you had to?
Mr. Rotches: No, I don't think so (laughing).
At times, it was more than challenging; it was like somebody was
trying to kill me. There's a grind of constantly coming up with new
designs. You're under such pressure to be creative and still gun
for click-through rates and achieve what's needed by the campaign
at that time.
Ad Age : How long would you have to design
Mr. Rotches: As fast as I could. In the
beginning of the summer, there wasn't a huge rush. It was typical
of how long I would typically have. It's rare to get much time at
all. You'll get maybe a couple weeks. At the beginning of the
campaign, I was given time. A week, let's say. At the end, it was
like, "We need this today. Or we need this in five sizes now."
Ad Age : What is the process like?
Mr. Rotches: I was usually given a call to
action, basic text, maybe an image. There's a Joe Biden one we did,
"Cool Hand Joe." The original image was a picture of him in front
of a crowd. Everyone's sweaty and angry. It's difficult, but I
think Joe Biden looks pretty cool there in the ad.
Ad Age : Do you think he looks cooler in the
actual ad than in the original image? Is that the idea?
Mr. Rotches: I listen to how people describe
what they're giving me rather than look at what it is for myself.
When people decide something it's often not what they plan to see.
In this case, it was the opposite. Someone looked at this and
thought it was cool. In my opinion, he looked hot. You have to work
with that and deliver something that the campaign wants.
Ad Age : Was there any flexibility?
Mr. Rotches: Over time, the call to actions are
tested to a point where there's not much tweaking to do. And with a
digital team for a presidential team when you get copy it's been
tested. We know it works. My concern is about designing this to
look like it's for the president of the United States at a very
serious time in the country. It's serious. Maybe a little playful.
You can't belittle the president or have too much fun with this. In
2008, we had a lot more fun. There were very few rules involved. We
were going after a young audience. The internet itself has come a
long way. There were design guidelines, color structures and use of
logo. But as the campaign went on, I had to stick to those less and
less as we saw what worked rather than branding guides. And that 's
much different than working with Pepsi. No matter how fast
[corporate] campaigns come out, you better put that logo this many
pixels away from the border as possible. With a campaign, where
clicks matter more than branding, you're flowing more with what
works rather than brand.
Ad Age : How do you find out what works?
Mr. Rotches: I'm not privy to actual numbers. I
find out what works based on the next ad. When the next ad comes in
and there's different copy, I know that the last group of copy or
the last call-to-action series was worse than the one before. You
know within a few days what was working. There was a lot of change
throughout the campaign.
Ad Age : Is there an example?
Mr. Rotches: I have a banner on there where the
Obama logo bounces out and gets eaten. ("Vote Early for Barack on
Your Lunch Hour.") In the beginning it was like let's hang back a
bit. Then, I felt like the leash was off and I could do what I do.
It became the more fun internet space from 2008. I design and
animate to get people to click. This was the last month or so of
the campaign. The message was a little clearer and you're moving
from list-building ads or registering ads to get-out-the vote
Ad Age : Did you look at the Romney ads?
Mr. Rotches: It wasn't until August that I
glanced at them. It reminded me of what was going on overall in
2008. I wasn't competing with them. I was competing with the basics
of the internet and the basics of getting people to click on
banners. I saw them when they were placed on a site that we were
going to be on the next week.
Ad Age : I should have asked you this before.
How did you connect with the Obama campaign in the first place?
Mr. Rotches: A Google ad I wrote for myself. I
have to advertise what I do. They found my portfolio that day and
they called me on the Fourth of July.
Ad Age : Naturally.