Union Goes After Republicans with Interactive Video

One of the country’s largest public sector unions is taking an innovative but underutilized approach to web video to steer support away from GOP presidential hopefuls. Inspired by a holiday campaign featuring cartoon hedgehogs, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees has added interactivity to YouTube video to create a political trivia game poking fun at Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.

“We wanted to do something online that highlighted the GOP candidates’ positions on public services, unions, and working middle class issues,” said Tracey Conaty, AFSCME’s digital and rapid response assistant director. “We just started doing a lot more video in-house last year.”

The “2012 Match Game” video encourages people to choose one of the four main Republican primary candidates and fill in a blank based on actual quotes from each. The clickable video, launched January 9, features the theme from the original Match Game TV show. It has attracted around 12,500 views.

“It’s a way of serving up content that’s already out there and isn’t necessarily new to people but gives them a different way to experience it,” Conaty said.

“Newt wants schools in the poorest neighborhoods to ‘get rid of union janitors’ and have BLANK clean the schools instead,” reads one of the incomplete statements. The correct answer, “students,” is accompanied by incorrect options like “the Kardashian sisters,” and “Little Orphan Annie.”

Players can move on to another candidate after answering each question. The video, which was inspired by a popular interactive holiday video from Bird Box Studio, “Singing Christmas Hedgehogs,” was built in-house.

The main goal of the video is to educate people about the positions of the GOP candidates on issues of importance to union workers and their supporters. Collective bargaining rights and other issues affecting unions should play an important role in the 2012 elections, particularly in key swing states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.

For AFSCME, web video reaches people who may not be reachable through other non-digital communications channels. The group pushed the Match Game video out through its own social media channels such as Facebook, and through like-minded organizations including MoveOn and AFLCIO.org, and left-leaning blogs like DailyKos, Crooks and Liars, and FireDogLake.

To enable interactivity within the video, which essentially links several videos together, AFSCME embedded video options into one another. The project was done in-house, so it didn’t cost much, thought it did take some time. The organization has a small digital team led by Conaty, which also includes a videographer, a web editor, and two others.

“One of the things I try to do with my team is have them spend a little part of their week checking out new things,” said Conaty. “We’ve gotten a green light to try new things and to make mistakes.”

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