August 29th, 2016 by T.L. Stanley in News
This article was originally published on Adweek.
And now for something completely different in an election season dominated by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—a political ad starring “Dead Abe Lincoln” telling voters they “just got screwed” by the two-party system.
“What Abe Lincoln prophesied about Trump and Hillary,” created on a shoestring budget by viral video mavens the Harmon Brothers, touts Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in a push to have the former New Mexico governor included in the upcoming presidential debates.
Funded by Alternative PAC, a Johnson supporter, the five-minute video also promotes a movement called Balanced Rebellion, which, Abe says, “is like Tinder but not gross,” and aims to match voters one-to-one with others who are disappointed in the major-party choices for leader of the free world.
While citing public polls and current research, Abe’s gentle tirade compares Trump to “your racist uncle,” cracks wise about his own assassination and Photoshops Clinton into a corporate-logo-heavy Nascar jacket.
Since its launch late last week, the video has snagged nearly 9 million views, most of them on Facebook with little paid media. Dave Vance, the short film’s writer-producer, tells AdFreak he was trying not only to make the ad credible but to clear some social hurdles.
“People feel some angst around sharing political ads because they don’t want to be that friend on Facebook,” he said. “We wanted it to be funny enough to grab attention and make it shareable.”
Lincoln was no Libertarian, Vance acknowledges, but he was a third-party candidate and gives the ad an “iconic American figure” as a hook. “We’re so versed in Lincoln’s life, and he lends himself to jokes with a historical reference,” Vance said.
The team at Provo, Utah-based Harmon Brothers shot the ad with greenscreen technology using local improv actor Christian Schmutz. The Harmons are best known for their viral videos for Squatty Potty, FiberFix and Poo-Pouri.
A paid media push will kick in over the next few weeks in an attempt to reach the millions of American voters who say they don’t want to cast their ballots for either Clinton or Trump.
“The video really reflects the level of disenchantment with the current political landscape,” Vance said. “We tried to distill the most crucial points”—and provide a few laughs along the way, like Abe’s reference to Gotham City and it being “time to vote for freaking Batman.”