How are politicians using Web. 2.0? At our political marketing panel at MIXX, Arianna Huffington — author, political candidate, and the provocative founder of the online site The Huffington Post — reported that they are not. Many of the digital efforts the candidates announced with fanfare earlier in this campaign have disappeared, two Huffington Post reporters have found.
“The Edwards campaign started to do that — hired somebody who was going to do webcams,” Ms. Huffington told the crowd at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. “The idea was, ‘We’re not only going to capture Edwards when he’s coiffed and ready.'” Now, her reporters discovered, “These weblogs can’t be found anywhere. The campaigns have scrubbed them from the Internet. After tremendous effort we were able to find one of them. What happened? Were these efforts to make candidates more authentic really dangerous? Why did they take them off the Internet?”
It was but one newsworthy finding exposed by the panel, which was expertly moderated by Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg. Political marketing, for decades, used to lead product marketing. Many contemporary commercial marketing techniques, notably the mobilization of zealots at the grass roots, migrated from politics into the commercial space. That migration has reversed.
“The perspective of a lot of the folks running the campaigns is not of the Internet,” said Rob Shepardson, founding partner of the SS+K ad agency in New York, and an advisor to the Obama campaign. “I’m not sure this is the Internet election. There’s been nothing terribly innovative so far.”