Obama’s XBox Race for White House

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgBarack Obama’s up on a virtual billboard in a high-speed driving game. Yep, his campaign is running in-game ads. The closest thing to running in-game ads I can recall a political candidate doing is when Virginia Governor and early presidential possibility, Mark Warner (now running for Senate) held an event in Second Life in ’06.

I first read about the gaming ads in GamePolitics last week, and confirmed yesterday with EA that the campaign is running ads in Burnout Paradise. They wouldn’t tell me anything else – how long the ads have been running, if any other political or advocacy advertisers have run ads with them — nothin’.

My question, and I’m sure one others have as well is, “Is it a novelty or will Obama actually get some…er…traction…out of ads in a racing game?”

I’ll try not to judge but it’s hard not to think of this as a blip-on-the-screen novelty that gets a little word-of-mouth and a perhaps a positive brand impression of Obama among gamers.

I asked Michael Bassik — VP of interactive marketing for political direct marketing firm MSHC Partners, and the new chief digital officer for Air America Media – what he thinks. Here’s what he told me via e-mail:

“Candidates are clearly waking up to the 21st century and realizing that voters are no longer glued to the television. To reach voters, you have to go where they are. And in a race this close, I wouldn’t be surprised to see political ads on the back of bathroom stalls. No stone should be left unturned.”

UPDATE: It looks like, according to beltway pub The Hill, Obama’s camp is running the ads in a bunch of other games, too, and targeting them to 10 battleground states.

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