From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Carly Fiorina’s U.S. Senate campaign has created the nation’s newest online star – the “demon sheep” – in its new ad attacking the Republican primary’s front-runner, former South Bay Rep. Tom Campbell.
“This is Jon Stewart material,” said Michael Cornfield, an adjunct professor of political management at George Washington University and a new media expert.
“At 3 1/2 minutes, it’s like ‘Avatar’ (long for an online ad),” Cornfield said. “Except unlike ‘Avatar,’ the special effects were embarrassing. And by the time you got to the payoff – a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ – it had become a punch line.”
Other uncomfortable questions remain for the uncredited man who had to crawl around on all fours in a sheep’s costume to portray the video’s antagonist, a glowing-red-eyed wolf in sheep’s clothing – or as it has been dubbed on its meteoric ride across the Internet: the demon sheep.
By Thursday afternoon, a day after its release, the ad had been viewed more than 149,000 times on YouTube (huge for a political video), inspired its own Facebook following, Twitter feeds (@demonsheep), online mashups (to Pink Floyd’s “Sheep”) and even a T-shirt line (“Yes, Ewe Can. Demon Sheep 2010.”).
Analysts wondered what the ad’s long-term effect will be for Fiorina, the political novice and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, trail Campbell in a recent Field Poll in their GOP primary battle to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
“That is a significant number of views, especially for a political ad, so they must have been doing something right,” said Theo Yedinsky, a San Francisco new media campaign strategist who worked for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s aborted gubernatorial run. “But whether that’s a smart strategy long term, that remains to be seen.
Made for the relative pittance of less than $15,000, the ad was cobbled together largely from stock and file footage by award-winning ad creator Fred Davis, a veteran of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign who crafted the 2008 “Celebrity” ad comparing Barack Obama’s popularity to Paris Hilton’s.
Davis’ latest creation attacks Campbell’s fiscal conservatism credentials, saying […Campbell, the] former dean of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is, the ad says, a “FCINO” – a fiscal conservative in name only. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Some of the ad’s other messages are being lost, analysts said, as the Internet masses are lampooning everything from the ad’s choice of metaphor to the demon sheep’s choice of footwear. Fiorina appears only briefly toward the end of the ad, from a distance and fleetingly.
“Not creating a strong Web video is not a good thing when you’re pitching yourself as someone who led a technology company,” said Nancy Scola, an associate editor at Techpresident.com, an online forum that examines the intersection of technology and politics. “The whole thing makes you wonder what kind of political advice she is getting.”
The Fiorina campaign’s take: All publicity is good publicity.
Campbell’s campaign took a similar tack Thursday, including the ad in a fundraising pitch to his supporters. It was an effort to show that the former professor would run a serious campaign, in contrast to Fiorina’s, which Campbell spokesman James Fisfis described as being in “full-mutton meltdown.”
DeVore, who trails Campbell and Fiorina, took the high road on the sheep question. Sort of.
In a mockery of the acronym used in Fiorina’s video ad, DeVore created a Web site ( www.demonsheep.org) for the home of “SFTEODSFOPD, or Society for the Eradication of Demon Sheep from our Political Discourse.”