26 March, 2010

Former HP CEO’s Demon Sheep Political Ad

Carly Fiorina’s candidacy for the US Senate had received scant media attention until recently. Michael Hiltzik wrote for LATimes.com in November last year, arguing that the former Hewlett Packard CEO was unsuited to hold political office.

The ink cartridge brand’s stock fell 60% under Fiorina’s stewardship from 1999-2005. Moreover, Fiorina failed to vote in 75% of California state elections since 2000 (though HP spent $4.7m in political lobbying during her tenure.)

Aside from Hiltzik’s broadside though, the former HP CEO’s campaign had been smooth sailing.

That is – until last week, when Fiorina released her first campaign ad. Directed at fellow Republican candidate Tom Campbell, the ad depicts Campbell as a demon sheep – a free-spending wolf among the fiscally conservative flock.

The ad’s political message is lost though – in lightning strikes, glowing red eyes, and a sinister voice-over booming ‘Piety’ and ‘Purity.’

Newspaper reviews were scathing.

Since release however, the ad has become an internet hit racking nearly 650,000 YouTube hits. What’s more, Fiorina is reportedly smiling at the exposure.

A spokeswoman on her campaign, Julie Soderland, told Reuters on Friday 5 February: "We're very happy with how effective this controversial and eye-catching web video has been because it's drawn attention to Tom Campbell's record as a fiscal liberal.”

But journalists are debating whether Fiorina’s ad has helped her campaign in spite of the views.

Peter Greer at CSMonitor.com called the video “a cargo ship full of crazy” in his 5 February article. He observes that the media consultant responsible for the video also created adverts for John McCain’s presidential campaign.

Dena Cassella at Digitaltrends.com meanwhile says that Fiorina’s marketing camp can expect to design the monsters for the next Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.

The effect of Fiorina’s demon sheep ad won’t be known until the ballots are drawn for the Republican primary.

Yet the former CEO’s campaign team is treating any publicity as good publicity. According to Soderland “you can expect to see more shocking content out of our campaign moving forward.”

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