Clever Obama Campaign Video or Genius iPod Product Placement?

A week or so ago, this video started showing up on left-leaning political blogs like Daily Kos. For those of you that don't remember the original Apple ad upon which this is based, it ran only once during a Super Bowl. In spite of its limited run, it received a tremendous amount of favorable coverage and still gets shown as part of marketing classes at universities around the country as an example of truly creative, effective advertising that works on multiple levels. But I digress... I caught a bit of the discussion about the video tonight on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show where they speculated about who was behind it. Could it be Obama's campaign, a conservative outfit, or someone else? Over the course of the conversation, they showed a loop of the video. As I watched, something caught my eye. So, I sat down at my computer, found the video on YouTube and went through it frame-by-frame to be sure I wasn't imagining it. Here's a screenshot: Notice anything? Clearly Olbermann and Cilliza did not as they speculated on who would have the motivation and the ability to do such a thing while forgetting the obvious suspect: Apple and/or their agency of record (TBWA\Chiat\Day) Unless, I've lost my mind, I could swear that's an iPod clipped to her waste band and iPods weren’t even a glimmer in Steve Job’s eye back then. My guess is that based on recent coverage of Obama's "rock star" treatment in front of adoring crowds around the country, Apple realized Obama's got some serious mojo and is perceived as someone new, fresh, and disruptive in politics today. Based on this not terribly original insight, they found an extremely clever way to generate HUGE free publicity and PR for their corporate image and the iPod. What's more, if it is Apple behind this then they picked a target audience that is PERFECT at both the strategic and tactical levels for this to work. Political blogs are the most heavily trafficked in general with well educated readerships that are young(ish) and engaged. In addition, a lot of these folks are also active in online communities including Flickr, MySpace, and Facebook. Not saying it’s Apple but they are the odds on favorite in my mind. I just can’t think of a simpler explanation for the iPod showing up in multiple frames throughout the video and you know what William of Occam would have to say in response. It's there for a reason and the simplest explanation is there's a commercial purpose behind it. One final thought on this relates to what the video actually is. I've tried not to call it an ad in this post for a reason. It's not one. No one has paid a dime to place it anywhere. 100% of the distribution has been for free if you don't count the time schleps like me have spent posting it on blogs. That's interesting for a couple of reasons. First, I suspect that means it's not governed by campaign finance laws (not positive but it would stand to reason). Second, its yet another demonstration of the willingness of individuals to spread a message when it's packaged creatively and distributed for free. Update: Nevermind.

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