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David Plouffe's Latest Digital Campaign

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, May 19 2011

"President Barack Obama meets with Press Secretary Jay Carney, left, and Senior Advisor David Plouffe, center, before an interview with Ben Feller of the Associated Press, in Chicago, Ill., April 15, 2011;" White House photo by Pete Souza.

The recent uptick in campaign-style digital media experimentation coming from the White House has much to do with David Plouffe, reports Time's Michael Scherer. Plouffe, Obama '08's campaign manager who came to the White House to help Obama's message get traction in the modern media landscape, is deep in the study of the way information flows in the same way he once studied precinct turnout numbers. Scherer's scene setter:

When Barack Obama traveled to Texas this month to talk immigration,  David Plouffe , his top message guru, decided to stay home and watch Twitter instead. While Obama spoke, Plouffe sat before two flat-screen televisions in the White House complex. One showed live footage of Obama in El Paso. The other flickered with a lightning-quick vertical ticker tape of people tweeting with the #immigration hashtag, reacting line by line to the President in real time. "I find it useful," Plouffe says, "to see what's penetrating."

When Obama went off script to joke that Republicans would soon demand a border moat filled with alligators, a blur of Twitter messages showed people sending the quote to friends and followers, signaling a messaging victory of sorts.

In fact, just later this morning the White House is participating in an unusual Twitter discussion around Obama's Middle East speech that will be led by NPR's Andy Carvin and Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch. There's also been Advise the Advisor, a chance for the public to write into top White House officials with their guidance on how the White House should run. That is, by design, a two-way conversation, but Plouffe is also, naturally, keen to rack up huge numbers by pushing out what Obama and the White House has to say. "For the recent White House Correspondents' Dinner," writes Scherer, "Plouffe's team created a fake movie trailer in the spirit of the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech, hoping it might go viral."

Plouffe's movie trailer plan might not have been the major hit they were looking for. We're talking some 400,000 watches. But Plouffe and team certainly did find online success that night. The resulting C-SPAN video of Obama's speech, we know, has been enormously popular. It has been watched nearly eight and a half million times and counting.