Déjà vu? Bernie Sanders campaign draws parallels with Obama

Benedict Pringle, the founder of politicaladvertising.co.uk and a new business director at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, on the viral campaign film for Democratic presidential hopeful, Bernie Sanders.

On 2 February 2008 a music video, produced by Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, was released in support of a presidential bid by a young US Senator from Illinois.

Every lyric in Yes We Can was taken from words used by Barack Obama in his speech conceding defeat in the New Hampshire presidential primary.

Despite the fact that the Obama campaign had no involvement in the production or distribution, the video went viral, captured the imaginations of progressives across the US and played a part in sinking Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. 

Eight years on, almost to the day, and in the midst of a tightly fought primary contest, another independently produced video has again generated millions of earned views for a candidate campaigning for the Democratic nomination.

Again, the film borrows words from a stirring speech by the candidate. And, again, that candidate isn’t Hillary Clinton.

The video in support of Bernie Sanders, Together, was produced by New York ad agency Human. It features a quick montage of photographic portraits of a diverse range of volunteers and old family snapshots. Many of the photos are then ripped in half and juxtaposed against each other to represent the division that many feel characterises politics in the US.

Whilst this stop motion sequence plays we hear Sanders whipping up crowds using phrases like "our job is not to divide — our job is to bring people together".

It has proven so powerful because it isn’t a promotional film for a 74-year-old senator from Vermont who is trying to become president. It’s a film about normal people uniting around their similarities rather than fighting over differences.

When the creators launched the video on Facebook they didn’t even mention Sanders in the post, they simply said they had "created a film about the idea of togetherness" and encouraged people to "watch, share and #‎votetogether?".

The Sanders campaign is reported to have bought the rights to the ad and plan to begin airing it on TV shortly. 

Clinton will be hoping that the parallels between the 2008 contest and the fight that she currently finds herself in begin and end with a great viral video.

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