Obama campaign: Cash, cash, cash, cash, cash, cash, hopeandchange. And cash!

The latest Plouffe email that’s come across my screen is… interesting. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

From: David Plouffe, BarackObama.com info@barackobama.com Date: Sat, Sep 27, 2008 at 6:09 PM Subject: In case you missed it To: XXX

xxx —

We put together an ad today that captures Barack’s victory in last night’s debate in 30 seconds.

Take a look and make a donation of $5 or more to get it on the air for those who may have missed it:

Watch the ad and make a donation

[This would be the section where Plouffe gave out that poll – minus link, of course {a trend that we’ll discuss more later} – that Jeff went off on below.]

Barack broke through last night with voters who were watching — but we need to get the word out to the millions who didn’t tune in.

Please watch our latest ad and make a donation of $5 or more to show your support:


Thank you for everything you are doing,


David Plouffe Campaign Manager Obama for America

Now, I’ve activated the link for the debate video – there were four web links in this message, and they all redirect to the specific donation page – so, let’s go over there to take a look at the video. What, you don’t want to? Well, you haven’t been given a choice, so get yourself on over there and take a look.

So, OK, you’re there. First, you see the donation requirements. Nothing egregious, so… hey! The video’s running! Yup… it’s a campaign ad. Personally, I think that it’s a lame campaign ad, but maybe you don’t. Maybe you think that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, and you want to put it on your website, get some of that viral action going for Obama. Or maybe you want to stick it up on Facebook, or some other networking site. Or maybe you just want to watch other Obama campaign videos. So what do you do? Well, the embed information didn’t pop up at the end like it usually does, so you just click on the video to port directly to Youtube… and the video restarts. The Obama campaign disabled that feature.

Let me say that again: the Obama campaign disabled the very feature that makes YouTube popular: its ability to spread interesting videos far and wide swiftly. If you want to share this video with people, you either: have to repost the link – not the video – to the donation page; or you have to go to YouTube, track down Barack Obama’s official YouTube site, search through his videos, pretty much guess that it’s this one… and now you can post it. You’ll notice that it’s 22 hours old, by the way, and at that point it has 61K hits. Through an exceptionally happy accident I happen to know that McCain’s first debate ad at 22 hours in had 309K hits to it (it’s up to about 411K now), which I think answers the question “Which method for dissemination works better?” neatly.

But that’d be the wrong question to ask, because the Obama campaign doesn’t actually care about this slapped-together ad or whether it hits the airwaves (by the way, they do in fact have the money to run this ad), or even if it gets maximum eyeballs. All they care about is your five dollars. This entire email is designed to maximize all chances to get you to donate, and to minimize any chance for you to do anything else. Heck, they even hid the link to the main site (as opposed to donation links, which are prominently displayed). They might have a different attitude if they could ensure that the donation submission form was embedded in whatever video that they were sending out via this method… but they can’t, so they don’t.

So, why am I telling you this? – Because after all, in its way it is a marvelous device for separating an Obama supporter from his money. Couple of reasons; first off, it never hurts to remind people that the primary goal of the Obama campaign – the absolutely primary, they will never deviate from it, there is no higher aspiration for them – is maximizing their fundraising. Second, while it is marvelous, it is also kind of tacky, not to mention… oddly pedestrian. They’ve done the digital equivalent of taking a Porsche engine and modifying it to fit into a Yugo; it seems to have succeeded, but why did they bother? And, lastly, of course, it gives me an excuse to provide the perfect metaphor for the Obama campaign:

Well, now it’s “I want my five dollars.” Inflation, you understand.