The former campaign advisor for Pete Buttigieg has cited Travis Scott’s recent in-game concert in Fortnite as one method for Democrats to consider as they move forward to the National Convention this summer.
Speaking in an interview with Politico today, Lis Smith – who previously served as a top aid in the 2020 campaign of Pete Buttigieg – discussed her recent opinion piece for The New York Times on the death of traditional political campaigns amid lockdown.
Smith describes the state of modern campaigning, particularly during a time when Democratic candidates are no longer able to rally in public – Joe Biden has been forced to campaign from his Delaware basement recently.
“I think the way we traditionally campaign is really out of date, really inefficient, really expensive, and really exhausting,” Smith says. “On any given day you spend millions of dollars on just a handful of events and they’re really exhausting for candidates. They could wake up at home, do a few rallies in Wisconson, and fly off to San Francisco, and close out heir day with a big dollar fundraising event. That’s exhausting for anyone let alone a 77-year-old candidate.”
Responding to a question from Politico’s Jake Sherman regarding alternatives to the old school format of convention campaigning, Lisa Smith refers to an idea by Stefan Smith, who worked with her under Buttigieg doing digital work.
“Stefan Smith cited the other day Travis Scott’s takeover of Fortnite and how that was a really creative way to think about it,” she says. “If we could do that with Joe Biden, you know Joe Biden projected against the Grand Canyon. That might be a little bit ambitious. But we could have exclusive musical content from some of the biggest musical artists in the game at these, driving eyeballs to the convention so that people watch them. It doesn’t just have to be these speeches.”
She adds: “Any variety will be better than what we’ve been giving people thus far which is three hours of very on-message robotic speeches from politicians.”
While projecting a giant Joe Biden onto the face of a canyon seems like an awkward method of appealing to voters, it highlights an ongoing struggle in political campaigning – how to modernise?
Travis Scott’s Astronomical Event resulted in 12.3 million concurrent players logging into Fortnite, an all-time record in the game. In addition, over 27.7 million unique players would go on to participate 45.8 million times across its five events. With those sorts of numbers fueling Fortnite’s transmedia project, it seems like Astronomical not only legitimized in-game concerts as a viable revenue stream but has also helped pave the way for entirely new kinds of digital-only content.