Blog Post

Confirmed: Obama Is Campaigning on Xbox 360!

Last week we noted unconfirmed sightings of an “Obama for President” billboard in the Xbox 360 racing game Burnout Paradise. Today we’re able to report that it is, in fact, an official advertisement placed by the senator’s campaign team.

“I can confirm that the Obama campaign has paid for in-game advertising in Burnout,” Holly Rockwood, director of corporate communications at Electronic Arts, the game’s publisher, told me via email, noting that EA regularly allows ad placements in their online games. “Like most television, radio and print outlets, we accept advertising from credible political candidates,” she continued. “Like political spots on the television networks, these ads do not reflect the political policies of EA or the opinions of its development teams.” [digg=http://digg.com/2008_us_elections/Obama_Is_Campaigning_on_Xbox_360]

To my knowledge, this Burnout ad is far and away the most prominent use of a major online game to promote a presidential candidate’s campaign. There have been near-misses, of course: In 2006, for example, when he was seriously considering a run for the Democratic nomination, ex-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner made an avatar-based appearance at a press conference in Second Life.

Of course, detractors could accuse Sen. Obama of sending out mixed messages; earlier this year he was telling audiences that parents need to “turn off the television set, and put the video games away.” Then again, since the Burnout billboard specifically advises gamers to vote early, maybe it’s his subtle way of trying to get them off the couch.

Image credit: 360 gamer “Jeffson”, from his Rooster Teeth journal.

275 Responses to “Confirmed: Obama Is Campaigning on Xbox 360!”

  1. Of course, detractors could accuse Sen. Obama of sending out mixed messages; earlier this year he was telling audiences that parents need to “turn off the television set, and put the video games away.”

    If you’re voting hopefully your parents aren’t still regulating your time.

  2. This is the result of a people-driven, bottom-up, Democratic campaign (ironically, the first time the Democrats have actually run this way in 40 years).

    I’ll bet that this XBox ad idea came from campaign volunteers and ordinary people in the campaign, and made its way up to the top pretty quickly. Not the other way around. There’s no way that any fat-cat inside-the-Beltway-bubble D.C. political consultant would even have thought this up, let alone suggested it or even approved it. Change is indeed in the air.

    If this bottom-up, people-driven decision-making is the way Obama will govern the country, I’m very excited.

  3. Wagner, how is this sending mixed messages to children? Is Obama shooting for the under 18 vote? I’m guessing it’s aimed at the millions of American adults that play video games (and vote).

    Was this a silly attempt at a partisan jab or did you just have a brain-fart when you wrote that?

  4. Regarding people donating money to BHO, about $33.8 million of it came from foreign sources that the FEC considers questionable. That’s in addition to at least tens of thousands from people using fake names like “Good Will”. Details at my name’s link. If you’re going to vote for BHO, look into the highly negative information about him first. You don’t want to be fooled into supporting someone who isn’t what he pretends to be, right?

  5. This is just one more reason not to purchase the game. Hope they make it so you can turn the crap off. May as well have Dukakis ont he billboard. Nobody remembers him, and nobody will remember Barry O. after the election.

  6. “Spend, spend, spend. That seems to be Obama’s theory.”

    Uhh… people donated this money to his campaign specifically for him to SPEND on winning the presidency. Idiot.

  7. Anonymous

    Spend, spend, spend. That seems to be Obama’s theory. What’s another few million on top of the 90 million he already has spent…and people think he’s going to fix the economy. Right!!!

  8. gunner, gunner… tisk, tisk. John McCain was the ACORN keynote speaker in 2006. The ACORN smear is just for the credulous few, and not supposed to grab YOUR attention. ACORN is a highly respected organization, with the support of both parties. Any fool knows that registration drives get their share of Indiana Jones’, Micky Mouse’s, and no doubt a few John McCain’s, address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, D.C., for that matter. :-)

  9. Obviously the ad is for adult gamers, as far as I Know, kids can’t vote, nor adults need parents telling them to get off the video games.
    therefore your conclusion of a mixed message its very bad.

  10. Here’s the thing… you place an ad like this and it’s so innovative that it’s impact is doubled, tripled or more when it’s covered as news by sites like this – just by virtue of it being a new idea. That’s advertising dollars well spent.

  11. indydude said:

    awesome…maybe ACORN can sign up a bunch of 13 year olds to vote for him.

    Yeah! Totally….oh wait. Then those 13-year olds would actually have to show up and verify their age in order to actually vote. Newsflash: there’s a very large difference between registration fraud and voter fraud. Free bonus newsflash: In almost every state, ACORN is required BY LAW to submit ALL registration forms they receive even if it is blatantly bogus and ACORN is usually the one that informs the registrars of the bogus forms.

  12. Anonymous

    “Of course, detractors could accuse Sen. Obama of sending out mixed messages; earlier this year he was telling audiences that parents need to ‘turn off the television set, and put the video games away.'”

    Couldn’t detractors use the same “logic” against the idea of running television ads?

    I think it’s a brilliant move — especially the call for early voting. Remind young people that they can still have their vote be heard without standing in line on election day.

  13. From a commercial perspective in-game advertising is a neat revenue trick. As the parent of a new video gamer I’m negatively disposed to having McDonald’s appearing in his game of Wii Tennis.

    Perhaps in the future we’ll see ad-supported games heavily discounted and ad-free versions at the regular price.

  14. Terry Andersen

    The Obama campaign is just incredible… Who would have thought of this? I am a registered Republican BUT what the heck… I’ll vote for Obama. If he runs the country the way he’s run his campaign, things will only get better.

  15. Mr. Mike

    Nick, I’m no spring chicken (in fact, I’m getting pretty long in the beak these days) but Obama has easily run the most flawless presidential campaign in my lifetime, which covers 9 elected presidents so far.

  16. Despite what some may say – you have to admit Obama has been running a pretty impressive campaign. It’s been progressive – in your face, and uses unconventional means to get the word out.