|This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on September 17, 2008.|
This is one of those ideas you wished you’d come up with.
A few weeks ago Sean Kane received an invitation from some UVic professors to go to an election party. But the party’s not on October 14, when Canadians go to the polls, it’s on November 4 – Sean’s going to a party with Canadians to watch the American results come in.
That’s when Kane, an illustrator for the likes of Amazon.com, got an idea.
He recalled polls that had been published over the summer saying Canadians were far more captivated by the drama and personality of the American election, than our own plodding candidates.
One CTV survey had 26% of Canadians saying they would vote for Barack Obama, 5 points higher than Stephen Harper with even Hillary Clinton faring better than Jack, Gilles and Stephane.
Sean’s idea was to start a grass roots campaign: Barack Obama for Prime Minister. The idea was not so much to get him legitimately elected, but to sell tshirts, buttons and bumper stickers. In an internet age having a money making idea like that and getting it launched can happen instantly.
Sean’s idea cost him $10 for a domain name and a few hours of graphic design work.
“I registered BarackObamaforPM.com, and then through the host company I just redirected it over to Blogger for a free blog.”
When you have an idea for a cool .com site, you don’t need to worry about hosting and servers, you can point the registered address to any other webpage, and in this case Sean got his cool web address and just redirected it to a free blogging site from which he could launch the Obama for PM “campaign.”
Finding a way to have the t-shirts printed up took a little more effort. Sean didn’t want to have to buy dozens up front; he was looking for a site that would handle the fulfillment as the orders came in and just cut him in for his share of each sale.
After some poking around for a Canadian operator to save cross border shipping charges, Kane landed on TShirtMonster.ca
“Once I had that figured out, I was off and running to Photoshop to create some content. Basically within 5 hours the site was up and it was live,” says Kane.
To spread the message, Sean posted a few comments on some relevant discussion boards, and sent some emails to political bloggers, created a Twitter profile and his idea went viral.
The Obama for PM campaign is non-partisan; he’s taking a parodying shot at each Canadian party and re-working the logos to read Obama for Prime Minister, even oddly cropping in the heads of our leaders wearing the shirts and showing their support for Obama.
“It’s a lot of fun and if I can get people engaged in our own campaign here, maybe people who never would have thought about what’s going on in our Federal election, then I’d be pretty pleased.”