You wouldn’t think, but not all mail-merge, en masse, preformed emails are alike. Which is why journalism nonprofit ProPublica created their a wonderful little feature—right now, in beta—called the Message Machine, which crowd-sources communications like emails from campaigns, collects them, and notes the small differences. The one they’re working on now is about Sarah Jessica Parker fundraising for Barack Obama in New York City.
It’s pretty interesting to watch—and note—the way most people got emails that left out the emphatic praise of Sarah Jessica Parker from emails other recipients received.
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For example, 52 people received an email that read:
So I know [Barack Obama] is looking forward to the dinner at Sarah Jessica Parker’s house next week in New York, and meeting a few grassroots supporters like you.
By comparison, 39 people received an email with this emphatic endorsement of the Sex and the City star:
Sarah Jessica Parker is a loving mom, an incredibly hard worker, and a great role model. She’s one of those people you can’t help but admire.
While seven people received an email that had only the above mention (“looking forward to the dinner at…”) of Sarah Jessica Parker, four people got an email that simply directs them to a YouTube video of Sarah Jessica Parker.
Only two respondents sent in emails that read:
Sarah Jessica Parker is someone who puts 100 percent into everything she does. Barack and I are honored that, right now, some of that wonderful energy is focused on supporting the campaign.
Those people will never know what a loving mom she is!
Sure, no doubt other political campaigns adjust their emails as well, and this one’s only particularly interesting because it involves celebrities (the double-edged sword of using fame to stump for politicos), who Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to have among his outspoken fans.
That said, the entire thing is odd and utterly fascinating, and prompts some pretty glaring questions:
Why do certain people get Sarah Jessica Parker praised to them more emphatically than other recipients of the email? How are these people organized? And has the blowback from the Anna Wintour experiment lead Obama’s team to more carefully manage and disseminate their messages?
The world may never know, but they will have this ProPublica page where they can read the emails about it in the meantime. Fun!
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