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Anti-Clinton Web Ad Draws Attention
For candidates caught in the crosshairs, one way to respond is to brush it off, preferably with humor.
Asked about the Macintosh video on Tuesday, Clinton said: "I'm just happy if it's taking attention away from my singing. My singing was bad enough. I'm just happy that nobody is tuning in to that."
The ad portrays Clinton on a huge television screen addressing robotic humans in a stark, futuristic hall. A female athlete tosses a hammer at the screen, destroying Clinton's image with an explosive flash. Then this text: "On January 14th the Democratic primary will begin. And you will see why 2008 isn't going to be like '1984.'"
But the Web is also a vast repository for imitation. A video posted two days ago copies the same Macintosh ad used against Clinton to target Obama. In a juxtaposition of spoof on spoof, the video uses Obama's pre-Super Bowl TV appearance when he pretended to announce his candidacy only to proclaim his support for the Chicago Bears. "The Bears lost. So will Obama," the ad script says.
Obama, appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday night, said his campaign knew nothing about the origins of the anti-Clinton ad.
"Frankly, given what it looks like, we don't have the technical capacity to create something like this," he said. "It's pretty extraordinary."
Evan Tracey, chief operating officer at TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks political advertising, said a television ad watched by 500,000 viewers could be worth up to $1 million. "It depends on whether it's 500,000 in New York or the same number of people in Paducah."
But, he added: "The disclaimer is that it's 500,000 people on YouTube, which means that they are generally young and they're not all in Iowa or New Hampshire, which is what matters."
David Winston, a Republican political consultant, said candidates are still grappling with the comparative effectiveness of television advertising and Internet ads, no matter who creates them.
"A view on regular media would be what I would describe as a passive view _ you're just sitting there being entertained," he said. "A view on YouTube is an intentional view. You actually sought out the content to watch it.
"One of the things we don't understand yet is the difference between our retention based on intentional views versus a passive view."
Finally, the impact of the ad on the audience matters. Keith Appell, a strategist for conservative causes, argued that the Clinton clip might resonate even more with conservatives that with Obama supporters.
"Conservatives really do see her as a potential Big Brother ... not sure Democrats do," he said. "For many of us the picture that capsulizes the Clinton presidency is not him pointing his finger and denying sex with Monica Lewinsky. It's the picture of the armed troops pointing guns at a petrified 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez during that Gestapo-type raid."
On the Web: