In 1999 a seriously savvy political adviser nabbed the domain name www.bushblows.com.
This wasn’t his only acquisition: he also bought www.dubya.net along with many others, most notably www.georgebush.com.
This man was a senior advisor to the then Governor of Texas, George Bush, and was already working on Bush’s campaign to become the 43rd President of the United States.
Not all politicians are so lucky. While Hillary Clinton has just recently declared she is running for the presidency in 2016, a grassroots group of Clinton supporters has already bought www.HillaryClinton2016.com to sell Clinton merchandise.
That’s not the only Clinton address taken. Time magazine reports that the web is filled with Hillary squatters: www.hillaryclinton.org will expose you to malware, while www.clinton2016.com was targeted by investors and sold for a cool US$14,500.
Political domain name battles are not always this benign. Take the US Republican Party’s 2016 presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. Unfortunately for Cruz, www.tedcruz.com is already owned by another man called Ted Cruz, and while some politicians have been lucky enough to convince domain holders of the same name to donate or lend their web address to their campaign, Cruz is not one of them.
Instead, the site – reportedly owned by an Arizona attorney – says simply: “Support President Obama. Immigration reform now!”
This type of reverse messaging is commonplace in political domain name wars.
In Australia we’ve yet to see domain name battles on the same sort of scale, but like most political trends this is one likely to hit our shores.
Recently, the Liberal Party registered the domain www.abbottlies.com.au, while the Australian Labor Party owns www.gillardlies.com.au – clearly a strategic move to avoid their opponents taking control of the domains.
The launch of new .melbourne and .sydney addresses means there is new fertile ground for savvy political advisors and those seeking to make a political point.
For those looking to identify the next local political domain name opportunities, the introduction of .sydney and .melbourne, – which have substantially greater availability in domain name choices – are particularly open for battle.
Savvy politicians, such as the Federal Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt who already has a .melbourne address (www.adambandt.melbourne), should look to snap up related domains immediately.
The consequences of failing to get your domain name are evident in one such case in Australia where the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) registered a domain name to hijack the Queensland government’s campaign, ‘Strong Choices’ around privatising its assets.
The ETU bought the domain www.strongchoices.com.au, tackling the Queensland government’s similarly named www.strongchoices.qld.gov.au.
The ETU’s website asks visitors to join its own campaign against the asset sales – the opposite message of the government’s page. The ETU’s use of their site and advertising was so successful it actually appeared above the Queensland government page in a Google search.
The union was scathing of the PR company behind the $6 million government campaign, saying it could not believe the government had not registered all the domain names associated with the campaign.
“It was money well spent,” the ETU said of its registration.
Another high profile case involving domestic violence prevention group White Ribbon Australia indicates the battle of domain names is already here.
Last year a US men’s rights activist group registered the domain name www.whiteribbon.org, with the website proclaiming violence against women was overstated – at the expense of men.
White Ribbon Australia, which uses the domain www.whiteribbon.org.au claimed in the Australian Senate that the Texas-based group A Voice for Men was using “almost fraudulent practices to guide people away from White Ribbon”.
So are political domain name wars coming to Australia? Of course: they are already here.
To prepare for battle, experts recommend snapping up domain names related to your business, charity and especially political endeavours. Like George Bush’s senior adviser and the ETU, the lesson here is to get creative and get in early.
Image attribution: East Timor Voter 2010 by Australian Electoral Commission, Licensed by CC BY 3.0 AU