Online video has played a big part in this presidential election, and candidate Barack Obama just upped the ante by releasing today a new short film through YouTube called KEATING ECONOMICS: John McCain & The Making of a Financial Crisis (it’s also available at keatingeconomics.com). The video is actually not very YouTube-friendly. It’s 13 minutes long. It’s about a financial scandal from a time that most YouTubers probably don’t remember. And it doesn’t star Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.
This isn’t the first time the Obama camp has put up a lengthy video online. Copies of his 37-minute “More Perfect Union” speech were posted on YouTube and pulled in more than 5 million plays. And his 50-minute Democratic nomination acceptance speech attracted nearly a million views on YouTube. It’s unlikely, however, that this video — which is being billed as a “documentary” about John McCain and the “Keating 5′s” role in the savings and loan scandal of the late 80s, and is narrated entirely by William Black, a federal banking regulator from 1984-94 — will enjoy the same degree of success.
The strategy of releasing the Keating Economics video online exemplifies how easily, quickly and cost-effectively candidates can bypass traditional television to deliver their video communications. Especially ones that deeply delve into a complicated topic ill-suited for most soundbite-driven traditional newscasts. But in an increasingly nasty campaign, reliant on quips and outlandish statements, it’s hard to gauge what effect this Keating video will have.
The production values of Keating Economics are good, and it features a lot of file footage of McCain scowling. But the subject matter of banking, delivered by a narrator in a monotone voice is…boring. I know the debate over regulation vs. deregulation is important, and understanding how it may or may not have led to the current economic crisis will help us avoid future downturns, but if he’s after eyeballs, maybe Barack should have had Obama girl provide the voiceover to goose the playcount a little.