Underwood 2016

By Emily Pirt, National / Committee Liaison

twitter-headerHe might not have won any delegates on Super Tuesday, but we already have a clear-cut winner for the 2016 presidential election: Francis J. Underwood.

Touting the slogan “Anything for America,” the incumbent president of the fictitious Netflix original show has hijacked the 2016 election and garnered more positive press than many of the real candidates put together.

The streaming giant picked the opportune moment to announce the premiere date for the fourth season of House of Cards, releasing a realistic presidential campaign advertisement during the Dec. 15 CNN Republican Debate. The 30-second spot, which was filled with campaign stock footage (i.e. sunrises over cornfields, troops returning home, close-ups of the hardworking middle class), took a surprising turn when President Underwood (Kevin Spacey) showed up on screen.

“America, I’m only getting started,” stated Underwood, before endorsing the message. The final slide of the advertisement included the new season’s premiere date, the URL to a fully-functioning campaign website and even the saying “Approved by Frank Underwood. Paid for by Underwood for America.”

The Internet lit up after the fake advertisement was dropped. Fans went crazy, and immediately the debate was overshadowed by a candidate that wasn’t even in the race. Frank: 1, Other Candidates: 0.

It seems as though CNN and House of Cards have developed a close relationship going into the season four premiere. Not only did Netflix release its first promotional advertisement during the CNN Republican Debate, it also modeled its mock debate spots after the news network’s.

CNN will be able to get something out of the partnership as well. Kevin Spacey will be narrating and co-producing a new original series called Race for the White House, which focuses on the same shady, back-room political battles that his Netflix show is famous for. The series premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday, March 6; just two days after the new House of Cards season arrives on Netflix.

While both companies are vastly different – one symbolizes the height of traditional media, the other, potentially the future of television – both will come out as winners this weekend by capitalizing on each others’ viewers.

The Underwood campaign as a whole has been spot-on from a PR perspective. It has utilized social media – especially Twitter – to play up election year hype.

The House of Cards Twitter handle has been so successful because it has been unafraid to be bold – just like Frank Underwood himself. The account has been tapping into voters’ frustrations by quoting their tweets in an attempt to convince them to vote for a different candidate.

It has also kept up with current events, giving an Underwood perspective to everything from Vice President Joe Biden’s potential White House run to the blizzard that rocked D.C.

While its social media presence is great, the campaign takes its PR tactics to a whole other level by bringing the campaign to life. Fans can interact with the campaign on its fully-functioning website, complete with a downloadable “media kit” of stickers, posters, social media headers and bumper stickers. The best feature on the website by far is the purposefully placed 404 error “Claire Not Found” message on the Claire Underwood bio page. (If you’re caught up through season three, you’ll understand why this is so awesome.)

The campaign even found time to make a quick stop in Greenville, S.C., setting up its headquarters just across the street from the Republican Debate. Visitors were able to take photos behind Frank’s desk, get a free massage and grab some of the famous “Freddy’s BBQ.” The whole event took place just 45-minutes away from Frank’s hometown of Gaffney, S.C.

President Underwood’s most recent campaign event took place Feb. 22 at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. The event celebrated Underwood’s “legacy” in Washington and included the unveiling of his official presidential portrait.

If you weren’t lucky enough to attend, you can check out the event’s Twitter Moment or visit the painting yourself, now through October.

Underwood’s touchdown in the District also led to the appearance of tongue-in-cheek advertisements in the Metro (RIP Zoe).

In total, Netflix placed 45 of the witty advertisements in Metro stations and 200 in train cars.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you run a presidential campaign. Frank, you have my vote.

Happy binging, House of Cards fans!


Image credit: fu2016.com

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