Is Jeff Barth the change South Dakota Democrats have been waiting for? His new campaign video suggests he could be:
Oh, that mannequin: yes, Jeff, yes!
Barth's video, unlike Kristi Noem's early Texas-filmed ads in 2010, was shot entirely in South Dakota, at Great Bear Recreation Area. It has 14,901 views as of this morning, one day after posting. That's twelve times more views than every other video Barth has posted on YouTube combined. That's more than seven times the views of Matt Varilek's campaign intro video from December.
Those views are driven by quality and by attention from the local media. Jonathan Ellis from that Sioux Falls paper calls it an "instant classic." He's right: In five minutes, Barth shows us his subtle (or profound?) and not-so-subtle wit (Exhibit A: the tone-perfect tempering of the rough-tough rifle-shooting with a croaking rubber chicken). He also shows his keen grasp of how to use modern media to repackage the standard resume, attack-dog lines, and pitch for votes and donations into a memorable, shareable online video. Even folks who don't give a rip about politics or about South Dakota are watching and talking about it.
That's buzz. That's what every candidate wants. That's what Jeff Barth now has.
The Man Who Walked Around the World... get the connection? Barth's video is no casual knock-off; it means something at every turn!
Barth is also getting national attention. Huffington Post calls Barth's production "the strangest campaign ad of 2012." Tim Murphy of Mother Jones calls it "the campaign ad we've been waiting for." Mediaite's Jon Bershad can't even spell South Dakota right, but he says Barth's combo of amazing and bizzare wins him over. ABC notes Barth's chess playing skills... and this video looks like a remarkable pawn-queen gambit.
Less than two weeks from the primary, Barth has scored a media coup. He's gotten nearly 15,000 people to watch a tubby white guy strolling down a dirt path in Minnehaha County while talking about South Dakota and D.C. politics. Well done, Jeff!
Update 2012.05.26 13:50 CDT: Taté Walker takes to her blog to give props to Barth's video and Barth himself:
I absolutely love the video. It's got The Demographic (18-34 + cool old folks) written all over it. It also has Barth written all over it, too. He's a fun guy. An honest guy. He's someone you gotta be on your toes around, because he'll throw weird pop-culture shit or some random-but-important fact at you when you least expect it. Back in my reporter days (2006-2008), I covered Minnehaha County for the Argus Leader. I got to know Barth as he was campaigning the first time around for his commission seat. He immediately distinguished himself as a politician ready to go on the line in the name of transparency for his constituents. He was willing to talk at any hour and would spend 30, sometimes 40 minutes on the phone with me just to discuss the one item on the commission agenda I didn't understand. He'd often talk about chess (I played in middle/high school #nerdalert!). He'd talk about current news items and county items that would soon become news. He was fair-mined, well spoken, and super-competent [Taté Walker, "Jeff Barth for Congress," WalkerWrackSpurt, 2012.05.25].
And as of this moment, Barth's video now has over 80,000 views on YouTube. As Nick Nemec says below, Barth is getting serious bang for the buck.