Who’s to Blame for the useless Americans Elect website? Blame LBi (and an Imaginary Friend)
Remember Americans Elect, the first-ever corporate effort to run a privatized, top-down, board-run online presidential nomination? Well, John Lumea finds the agency and one of the people at that agency to blame for the broken-down, no-good, can’t-register, won’t-verify-my-identity, no-comments-allowed, no-discussion-permitted, won’t respond-to-contact, community-devoid, records-gapped, official-rules-violating, bizarre-candidate-ranking, internally-contradictory Americans Elect website. Lumea’s Facebook post:
Americans Elect paid the branding and tech firm LBi at least $9 million to design and build its Web site, as well as to create its entire public engagement toolkit — the brand; the messaging; social media; videos; advertising; promotions. All of it.
Kriston Rucker of LBi was the Creative Director for the Americans Elect campaign — and he now lists the credit on his own Web site.
Rucker’s site is aptly titled…Imaginary Friend.
Let’s add some detail to flesh out John Lumea’s choice find. With all the problems, hiccups, exclusions and downright malfunctions of the Americans Elect website, can you believe LBi won a Clio Award for its Americans Elect product? Well, as you can see here, it did win an award — only two weeks before the whole Americans Elect enterprise collapsed despite considerable news coverage when hardly anyone showed interest in participating and the few people who did want to participate couldn’t even register. That’s got to be embarrassing for the Clio Award Juries, which represent the center of the corporate public relations industry.
It’s not as if LBi is running away from the association: in this pdf document LBi takes full responsibility for the construction of the Americans Elect website, from the bizarre matching system that told me Condoleezza Rice was my ideal politician to the the Platform of Questions procedure in which Americans Elect ignored delegates’ choices to the voting system that drove people crazy with its malfunctions. These are all the aspects of the Americans Elect website that shut down democracy or just plain didn’t work. LBi even brags about setting up an account for Americans Elect with GetSatisfaction, the “ask any question” website at which Americans Elect representatives failed to actually answer questions and even issued takedown demands when people talked about one another’s questions.
The full set of people at LBi responsible for the Americans Elect disaster is available here. Kriston Rucker has some company among employees with titles:
Executive Creative Director: Cedric Devitt, LBi, New York
Creative Director: Emil Lanne, LBi, New York
Creative Director: Kriston Rucker, LBi, New York
Creative Director: Richard Bloom, LBi, New York
Copywriter: Howard Hill, LBi, New York
Art Director: Steven Alvarez, LBi, New York
Agency Producer: Sarah Kapoor, LBi, New York
Agency Producer: Dexter Liu, LBi, New York
Account Executive: Jen Cameli, LBi, New York
Account Executive: Patrick Craig, LBi, New York
Other: Michael Doody, LBi, New York
Other: Jonathan Isaac, LBi, New York
Americans Elect spent a lot of time referring to itself as a “grassroots movement.” But as the above list and the new whittled-down single-page Americans Elect website reveal, it was an corporate outsourced, hired-consultant private enterprise. This is who built Americans Elect, on commission:
Arent Fox LLP
Arno Political Consultants
Arnold & Porter LLP
The Bach Group LLC
Be A Protagonist
Copilevitz & Canter LLC
Deloitte & Touche LLP
Global News Imaging
Ikon Public Affairs
Ipsos-Reid Public Affairs Inc.
J. Howell Holdings LLC
Kita Capital Management LLC
Koch & Hoos, LLC
Kramer Editing Services
McLean Insurance Agency
New Beginnings Photography
Proskauer Rose LLP
Public Strategies Inc.
Rackspace Hosting, Inc.
Realist Idealist Strategies
Smart Campaigns Inc.
SNR Denton US LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Whitman Insight Strategies
On The Issues
This list is thoroughly corporate. Most of the corporations that aren’t huddled in the financial district of Manhattan can be found inside the same DC Beltway that Americans Elect rhetorically lambasted (and yet itself called home).
Now that Americans Elect has failed due to lack of popular support, its corporate contractors are trying to make the most of the debacle. Failing that, at least they’ve got a lot of cash. The Washington Post verifies it: the Americans Elect website builders walked away with a cool $9 million.