NEW YORK: The role of Russian trolls and bots in the 2016 US presidential election has been submitted as a case study to the Webby Awards as an example of an impactful and disruptive campaign.
A group of advertising industry creatives has written up the story of Russian involvement in the election as Project Meddle, “an innovative social strategy that broke all the rules”.
An accompanying video explains how “we started by aligning ourselves with a top-tier influencer as the face of our campaign” as Donald Trump appears in silhouette, “then built a social newsroom to amplify his content around the clock”.
The “newsroom” then took “a first-of-its-kind approach to earned media” by “creating our own news coverage”.
The film goes on to outline how the team was able to use Facebook’s integrated data tools “to create news that was highly relevant to our target in real time”.
That involved the creation of “experiential stunts” – such as arranging conflicting demonstrations at the same time in the same place – to “deepen audience relationships”.
The hacking of Democratic party emails, meanwhile, is described as “an innovative email strategy”.
As for the results, “we didn’t just impact an election – we impacted an entire nation’s faith in democracy”.
One of the creatives behind Project Meddle told The New Yorker that the factors the advertising industry exploits – from short attention spans to the celebrity culture to viral hashtags – were the same ones that had helped Trump into the White House.
“These trolls didn’t have huge budgets, and, frankly, a lot of them are pretty shitty at Photoshop,” another one of the creatives added. “But you can’t deny the effectiveness.”
The Trump campaign, in the shape of Cambridge Analytica, has already won an advertising award, the firm having been presented with a Gold in the Big Data category at last year’s ARF Ogilvy Awards.
This outlined how it used the findings of advertising recall and effectiveness surveys and the validation of internal daily polls to identify more than 1 million “persuadable” voters in key battleground states and target them with relevant messages.
Sourced from Project Meddle, The New Yorker; additional content by WARC staff