Penn freshmen use viral videos to campaign


This election, candidates are getting the word out 'Gangnam Style'


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In addition to more traditional posters on Locust Walk, some freshmen have made use of YouTube videos over the past week as part of their campaigns for Undergraduate Assembly and Class Board positions.

Photo by Renata Siruckova


As students have been casting their votes online for freshman elections, candidates have been busy campaigning and getting their names out to the Penn community.

As of Wednesday at 5 p.m., 40 percent of the freshman class had voted online — a slight decrease from last year’s turnout at the same time. Voting began at 12:01 a.m. Monday and will close at 5 p.m. Friday.

“Last year, we had a 65.7 percent overall voter turnout, and that’s the highest it’s ever been,” Nominations and Elections Committee Vice Chair of Elections and College junior Frank Colleluori said. “This year I want it to be even higher.”

While candidates typically campaign by hanging posters on tree trunks, railings and kiosks up and down Locust Walk — as well as advertising on Facebook and Twitter — a new trend has emerged this year: viral videos.

“We have a lot more campaign videos,” NEC Chair and Wharton and Engineering senior Alec Miller said. “They don’t cost money and it’s good to use outreach methods that are accessible and that are really fun for the voters to watch as well.”

Some, like College freshman Laura Petro, have made remixes of popular songs to get their message out.

“When I was brainstorming, I wanted to do something with music because it’s catchier, so I did a remake of ‘Call Me Maybe,’” said Petro, who is running for School of Arts and Sciences chair on the 2016 Class Board. “I thought it would be fun and show off my personality and bring more energy to Class Board.”

Similarly, College freshman Anthony Janocko, who is running for executive vice president on Class Board, wanted to make a statement with his promotional video.

“I kept the beginning serious and formal so it would have some substance, but I also wanted people to know I’m crazy and fun,” said Janocko, whose video features a three-man “Gangnam Style” dance with him in a Speedo. “I’m on the swim team, so wearing a speedo is not weird for me and ‘Gangnam Style’ is really cool right now. I put it at the end so it would be really surprising.”

Other candidates, such College freshman Justin Taleisnik — who is running for both Class Board vice president of finance and UA representative — have also made use of the recent “Gangnam Style” craze in their videos.

While YouTube videos have undeniably been popular, Engineering freshman Arthur Rempel has taken a more unconventional approach.

At a candidate event on Sunday night, “I did my shirtless thing and got my fellow rugby players to write my name on their chests,” said Rempel, who is running for Class Board Engineering chair. “I mostly just did it to make an impression so people remember me.”

Still, others are taking a more traditional approach so that they can develop a closer relationship with their constituency.

College freshman Tomas Piedrahita, who is running for Class Board SAS chair and UA representative, has focused on meeting and speaking with as many people as possible in person.

Similarly, College freshman Cat Peirce, who is also running for Class Board SAS chair, has chosen to go door-to-door meeting people and handing out flyers to build up name recognition.

With slogans like “Start your year off on a good note, give Cat Peirce your vote” and “Be fierce, vote for Peirce,” the College freshman has “used a lot of rhyming so people would have things they could remember,” she said. “If you only recognize one person, it’s probably the person you’ll vote for.”

Miller and fellow NEC members have been pleased with the new group of candidates.

“They’re a really creative bunch, which is fantastic to see,” Miller said. “We’ll be electing a creative group of people who will solve problems that haven’t been solved in the past.”

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