#ImARepublican hashtag gets hijacked

Like many other promotional hashtags before it, the political message spun out of control almost immediately.

If you know that you have outspoken online critics because your organization is, say, a bank a lot of people blame for foreclosures or a police department with cases of using excessive force, then it may be best not to open yourself up to harsh ridicule by inviting comments with a branded Twitter hashtag.

That goes for political parties, too.

Since late September, people have been hammering Republicans using the #ImARepublican (sometimes repurposed as #IAmARepublican) hashtag. The hashtag is the brainchild of former Mitt Romney ad man Vinny Minchillo, and it’s part of a larger campaign to convince people who have characterized the Republican party as only being for rich, white men that it’s a diverse group of people who do things that well, Democrats are often stereotyped as doing.

Here’s an ad from the “Republicans are People Too” campaign that notes Republicans drive Priuses, recycle, and read The New York Times, among other things:

​ Few of the tweets using the #IAmARepublican hashtag reinforce those sentiments, though. The lion’s share seems to be either direct criticism of Republican politicians and candidates:

Or just plain silliness:

One of the main criticisms of the ad is that the photos in it are from stock photo sites, which may mean the people in it aren’t Republicans (or even Americans) at all. That led to the hashtag #IAmiStock, a nod to the photo service iStockPhoto. It seems to be mostly popping up on Facebook.

Minchillo told Digiday, “The response was bigger than I thought it was going to be and it was a little more negative than I thought it would be.” Though he added that the joking response to the campaign “have proven our point.”

Late last week, Minchillo launched a second video about the response to the campaign, calling for “more constructive dialogue”:

​

As of Monday morning, that video has only been viewed about 1,200 times, while the first is at about 320,000 views.

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