CNN's Empire State Building gimmick: Solid or silly?
MANILA, Philippines – Hologram? That’s so 2008. In the 2012 US presidential race, lighting up the Empire State Building is the new red and blue.
CNN continues its streak of pulling off election gimmicks, this time using a world famous landmark. The network partnered with New York’s Empire State Building for a skyscraping display of the poll results.
Here’s how it works. As CNN projects the outcome in each state and electoral votes are allocated to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a vertical LED-illuminated “meter” atop the spire of the building will display CNN’s running tally of the race to the magic 270 electoral votes needed to win the election.
In a press release, CNN promised a spectacular election coverage feature.
“This occasion will mark the iconic Empire State Building’s first-ever use of their new custom LED panel technology, a state-of-the-art dynamic lighting system from Philips Color Kinetics that is unique to the Empire State Building and will allow the building’s façade and mast to change lighting scenes in real-time.”
“When CNN projects a winner of the presidential election, the tower lights of the Empire State Building will change color to all-blue or to all-red.”
The lighting gimmick follows the “beam me up” one in the 2008 race. Reporter Jessica Yellin and artist Will.i.am. appeared virtually on CNN’s sets in a stunt that became known as the “hologram.” Observers were quick to point out though that it was not the real thing.
Other media outfits also have their own tricks up their sleeves but they did not go to the heights that CNN did.
“ABC News has taken over the screens in Times Square. NBC News has taken over Rockefeller Plaza’s ice rink. Small real estate, compared to CNN,” wrote Politico.
‘Early lead in silly coverage’
The announcement sparked ooohs and ahhhs on social media but not everyone was floored.
The Atlantic Wire put out a story titled “CNN Takes an Early Lead in the Silly Election Coverage Gimmick Race.”
“CNN, the network that earned mockery for bringing us interviews ‘via hologram’ on election night 2008, will once again engage in some visual silliness as they measure tonight’s returns,” the article said.
The website cautioned CNN, citing the flak it got in its rush to report the US Supreme Court decision on health care in June.
“It’s going to be pretty embarrassing if they end up calling something incorrectly. Let’s just pray we don’t have a repeat of the health care ruling incident.”
CNN, the self-styled best political team on television, is not just relying on the building for its reporting. John King is back with his touchscreen analysis and so-called “Magic Wall.” There’s also Tom Foreman in his “virtual studio” to visualize the balance of power in the US Congress.
And what’s a CNN coverage without Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper?
Still, some Twitter users felt the Empire State Building takeover was over the top. Others chimed in in the spirit of good fun.
For CNN host and Newsweek/Daily Beast media analyst Howard Kurtz, the gimmick can be summed up in two simple words: “Towering idea.”
What do you think? Is it silly or solid? Weigh in on the comments section below. – Rappler.com