Dead president’s run for ASG revealed

Cat Zakrzewski, Campus Editor

Forget blasting listservs or handing out flyers — Arts Alliance staged a publicity stunt to advertise its latest production, anonymously organizing a fake student government campaign for a dead U.S. president.

After losing a bid for Associated Student Government president, the campaign for “The People’s President” Andrew Jackson revealed itself to The Daily on Sunday to be a creative marketing ploy.

Arts Alliance decided to use the high-profile ASG election season as a chance to advertise the musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” which will begin its run in May. Rather than just advertising the show, Arts Alliance decided to run a full ASG campaign for the deceased seventh president, which included flyering, chalking, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

“ASG elections are one of the biggest marketing times of the year,” said Brennan Suen, the show’s marketing director. “This is a show about presidents. ASG presidents, everyone pays attention to that.”

The Communication junior said he thought using the ASG campaign to launch publicity for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” would be a creative way to reach students outside the theatre community who do not typically attend shows on campus. The hoax gained traction as other ASG candidates interacted with the dead president on Facebook, and the NU satirical website Sherman Ave wrote an editorial calling for Jackson to drop out on the basis of “human rights violations.”

Communication juniors Rachel Marchant, the producer, and Nick Day, the director, were also in on the plot. Marchant said the campaign received some criticism, particularly from ASG insiders and the Center for Student Involvement. The group began chalking and flyering four hours before the ASG deadline for nonverbal campaigning for actual candidates.

Suen said the team even had to change the campaign’s Facebook page from “Andrew Jackson for ASG President” to “Andrew Jackson for President” due to concerns students may think the former president was an actual candidate. The trio found these concerns particularly humorous considering this year’s ASG ballot did not include an option for a write-in candidate.

“Apparently we could have taken away votes,” said Marchant, laughing. “Andrew Jackson is not a real human. He is not alive.”

Marchant also said students became frustrated when the group held a bake sale called “Andrew Jackson for President” because buyers did not know where their money was going. However, she said the theater students “caught on” because they were familiar with the show.

“I think people like kind of keeping the secret,” Marchant said.

The students were inspired by last year’s Campus Crusade for Christ campaign, “I Agree with Markwell.” The mysterious posters across campus last year allowed the religious group to gain attention as students wondered who Markwell was.

Despite the criticism, Marchant said the campaign was all in good fun, much like the show. Day explained that the play is a 90-minute “emo-rock musical” about the life of Andrew Jackson.

“It totally ties into some huge themes of the show, of leadership and someone getting elected on some promises they don’t even understand,” Day said.

Marchant said everyone on campus can relate to the show.

“We are all trying to be leaders at Northwestern,” she said. “We struggle … We make these promises to ourselves. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. It’s going to be a really funny show.

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” will run May 16 to May 18 in The Louis Room.