DC Influencer: Arun Chaudhary, Revolution Messaging

Arun Chaudhary, Revolution Messaging partner, talks about how Drunk Dial Congress was created and how it helped people vent their anger.

Tell us about Drunk Dial Congress.
Drunk Dial Congress is a great example of when technology and a good idea meets the moment.

Visitors to the site entered their phone number and received an automated call that would connect them to a member of Congress.   The site also offered cocktail recipes under names including The Legislative-Ade.

The government shutdown was something that America as a whole did not like – it was not just the political chattering classes in Washington. But many people didn’t have outlets to express that rage.

Obviously, creating the website was meant as a fun social experience, but it was also a way for people to communicate with lawmakers and let them know that they were angry.

Were people really dialing in?
Drunk Dial received more than 100,000 calls. People found it cathartic and a way they could communicate with a process that leaves so many people behind.

A lot of people contacted a legislator for the first time, and that is where the rubber meets the road in democracy. Sometimes, comedy makes it easier for people to understand. It brings people in, just in a different way.

How did you promote Drunk Dial?
We were making something that appealed to us because we were all personally frustrated with the situation, and we were making something we were excited about. That turned out to be broadly appealing and it took off. We just pushed it out on our personal social networks. Subsequent media coverage included USA Today, BuzzFeed, The Guardian, Politico, and CNBC.

Having a creative approach paid off?
One of the great techniques out there now is quickly building microsites. By making it an actual destination, you are building a place where people can have these conversations.

This was very different from  us doing targeted ads or leveraging data-driven processes that we use for clients. This was creating something we personally found so compelling that we knew with very little pushing, this would be a great protest space on the Internet. 

What was the feedback from Congress?
We heard [members of Congress were] talking about it on the floor, which was totally flattering. [Congressional offices] were being overwhelmed with so many calls.  

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