Tue, Nov 14, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Mayoral candidates seek votes in the blogosphere

REACHING OUT To connect with younger, Web-savvy voters, campaigns are posting online journals that use comics, animated characters and humorous stories

By Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Supporters of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin yesterday hold up ''big head Bin'' signs while campaigning at the Taipei City Hall MRT station.


With the rising popularity of blogs among today's youth, more candidates are taking their campaigns into the blogosphere, which has become the latest battlefield for the upcoming Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections.

Although the word "blog" was first coined in 1999, it wasn't mentioned during the nation's election campaigns in 2000. It was not until 2004 that blogging really entered the mainstream.

According to a survey conducted by marketing researcher InsightXplorer Limited that was released last month, the dominant age group for bloggers still consists mostly of those under 29, but the number of bloggers over 30 is increasing.

About 30 to 40 percent of bloggers are students and about 20 percent are white-collar workers, the survey showed.

To reach these young voters, candidates have have adapted by writing blogs of their own.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) set up a campaign blog called Reading Hau Lung-bin in February upon joining the KMT's primary.

That first blog introduced Hau's background, stories about his life and his campaign platform. Then, in an attempting to attract younger voters, Hau's camp launched two more blogs, with one telling Hau's story with comics (www.wretch.cc/blog/longbin) and the other posting campaign commercials and video clips from campaign events (www.im.tv/myvlog/longbin).

Tony Tso, director of the Web site team for Hau's campaign, told the Taipei Times that the design of the blogs is aimed at revealing Hau's sincerity and friendliness while appealing to voters through animated layouts and interesting articles.

"Voters are not that attracted by campaign platforms, so we first posted Hau's personal stories and experiences on the [first] blog to give voters a better understanding of his character," said Tso, who declined to give his Chinese name.

Mayoral candidates bolgs

* Hau Lung-bin


* Frank Hsieh




* James Soong


* Chen Chu


* Huang Chun-ying


* Lo Chih-ming


The comic blog, in addition to highlighting Hau's experience as the former head of the Environmental Protection Administration, also poked fun at the candidate.

"We invited campaign workers to share funny stories or observations about Hau in everyday life and had the artist put them into the comics ? We want people to know him better and not feel that he is someone too high too reach," he said.

Besides taking Hau's campaign into the blogosphere, the camp also recruited about 50 to 60 young volunteers tasked with attracting younger voters through designing creative campaign ads and planning activities such as graffiti contests and baseball and basketball games.

According to Chen Chia-chiang (陳家祥), the executive secretary of the youth volunteer team, the volunteers also joined the candidates on their visits to grassroots supporters and borough wardens -- something younger volunteers do not usually get a chance to do.

"Some borough wardens were surprised to see young people and thought they would have problems communicating with us at first, but later they said that they were glad to see us," he said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has three blogs, including Frank Hsieh's All Winning Headquarters, Frank Hsieh's Love and Trust and A Blog of a Child Who Grew up in a Street of Blacksmiths. All of the blogs are hosted on different portals.

Hsieh's team has endeavored to make the blogs very personal so that voters will come away with a feeling that they not only know Hsieh as a mayoral candidate, but also know his personality.

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