Obama Wishes You (But Not Me) Happy Holidays

Organizing For America, the Democratic Party’s organization for people formerly associated with Barack Obama’s election campaign, has been sending out millions of holiday videos that show the President, as well as ordinary Democrats from around the country, thanking supporters for their dedication. The neat thing about the video is that it’s cleverly personalized, featuring not only different religious holiday-specific messages, but also the recipient’s name in various places of the clip.

Let’s say your name is Pete, for example. The video will feature Obama supporters on Times Square holding up a sign reading “Happy Holidays Pete!” An airplane will pull a banner with your name across the sky above some sunny beach, and Obama himself will sign a holiday card for you in his office. Recipients are encouraged to send personalized versions of the card to their friends as well. An Organizing for America spokesperson told me at least a million people already have.

The organization started sending out the personalized holiday greetings last Thursday, and the site featuring the video has seen 5 million visitors in the first seven days. One million people actually proceeded to send cards to their friends. That’s good news for the party as well, which doesn’t keep the names of anyone receiving a card, but adds everyone who sends out a card to its newsletter list.

Personalized videos like this one aren’t without precedence. OfficeMax has been offering its ElfYourself animated holiday postcards for four years in a row now, and PalTalk actually launched a personalized viral video about a fictitious presidential campaign during the ’08 election (the site has since been taken down).

However, the Obama folks clearly didn’t want people to upload any inappropriate photos to include in the video or have Obama dedicate holiday cards to swear words. The personalization is restricted to “tens of thousands of names,” I was told. A quick test revealed that in fact even many less common names were immediately recognized. Well, many, except my own. Much like pretty much every barrista in coffee shops all across America, Obama doesn’t seem to know how to spell my name. Trying to dedicate a video to myself resulted in a slightly less personal “Happy Holidays, friend!”