The 2012 Presidential Election: Transmedia Storytelling in action

Harvey Dent Campaign PosterToday’s US Election can be seen as the culmination of the most expensive transmedia storytelling campaign in history. Unlike the year-long Why So Serious? campaign that Warner Bros. funded to promote the Dark Knight Batman movie, and was reported to involve 10 million players, the United States Democratic and Republican Political Parties funded a multi-year “election campaign” that has involved hundreds of millions of players.

Multiplatform Storytelling

Unlike political campaigning in the era before ubiquitous digital content, when politicians would appear in person or on radio and television to promote their views, the 2012 US Election was a true transmedia experience.

Candidate messages were re-purposed in political ads, often funded by PAC’s that pretended to have no connection to the politicians themselves, but in fact were staffed by people who, as they say, were most likely in bed with the candidates.

There were extensive, you might say endless, discussions about the candidates and their ads on television, on Twitter and other forms of social media and, in a hang-over from an earlier era, even in bar rooms and coffee shops across the country.

Alternate Reality Game

The political parties encouraged players to display bumper stickers on their cars and signs on their lawns with the goal of stimulating interest in an election game that came to a climax in today’s visit to polling stations, where the ritual of voting was enacted. This whole alternate reality game (ARG) was conducted in terms of a backdrop of “messages” that candidates, their wives, supporters and surrogates communicated to players who then repeated the messages they liked to friends and neighbors.

Lack of participation

Despite the billions of dollars spent on the story, it’s worth noting that participation in the actual voting is minimal among the younger age groups. Many of them exhausted their interest in these games after marching in the street to promote The Dark Knight.

After all, when you’ve got Gotham City to save, who has time to select the leader of the free world?

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Great perspective, Ian and very interesting extension of Transmedia into the political realm. As to the lack of participation that goes to the heart of a failure of politicians to grasp the longer-term relationship building that good Transmedia affords uniquely. Their “story”” is far from over once they get elected, although many of them wish it were so!

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