Fans of the president will want to see it. Republicans will want to boo it  – then decide whether it’s an effective campaign tool they might want to copy.

But love or hate the prez, filmmaker David Guggenhiem’s “The Road We’ve Traveled,” which debuts tonight, is another step away from conventional television campaigns toward interactive Internet efforts.

And this is clearly where Hollywood and social media channels intersect.

The Academy Award-winning filmmaker ‘s(“Waiting for Superman”) documentary about President Barack Obama’s first three years in office is narrated by Tom Hanks. But instead of using movie theaters and HBO to get out the message, the Obama campaign is only showing “The Road” on YouTube.

The New York Times posted a long piece  on “The Road” yesterday, not so much about its artistic merits, but about how the film is the Obama’s campaign to try to reach the most people through social media, not conventional static 30-second TV spots.

Instead of buying TV time, campaign tacticians are hoping “The Road” will be an organizing and fundraising too, with supporters sharing “The Road” online and via email, according the NYTimes piece.

The Obama campaign is using a new YouTube platform that supposedly turns the passive experience of watching a video into an organizing and fund-raising tool. Viewers will be able to post campaign content to their Facebook pages, volunteer and donate all without having to leave the Obama campaign’s dedicated YouTube page.

The Times story notes that Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign also is using Web campaign videos, and supporters can donate, volunteer and share content, all within Mr. Romney’s YouTube channel. Romney’s campaign has been producing two videos each week, according to the Times.

From the Times piece:

Eventually campaign strategists hope to use the new software to focus on people in highly specific ways. For example, if someone watches a video about a certain geographic location, like Florida, a list of that person’s Facebook friends in Florida would appear alongside the video with a message from the campaign that suggests recommending the video to them.

The Obama campaign’s efforts underscore the importance that political campaigns now attach to Web video and the role the medium will probably play in the coming election. Once best known in politics as the venue for viral parodies and hastily produced response efforts, online video is vital in the way campaigns communicate with and persuade voters.

“The importance of video is so new for campaigns, even relative to ’08,” said Teddy Goff, the Obama campaign’s digital director. “Now it’s in some ways the primary way our digital operation communicates with supporters. And increasingly it will be the primary way we communicate with undecided voters.”

We got an invite to 617 Baxter Ave. in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood, close to where we live.

But it appears that there are “The Road” gatherings in all parts of the city.

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Terry Boyd
Terry Boyd has seven years experience as a business/finance journalist, and eight years a military reporter with European Stars and Stripes. As a banking and finance reporter at Business First, Boyd dealt directly with the most influential executives and financiers in Louisville.

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