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They Didn't Build That: The 11 Best Unapproved Ads From Election 2012

As we count down the days until the presidential election, we present some of the best political creativity that didn’t come from the official campaigns.

  • <p>This <a href="" target="_self">nifty app</a> pits Republicans and Democrats against each other in a contest of knowledge, complete with a leaderboard.</p>
  • <p>Finally, 7-11 brought back their voting cups again. <a href="" target="_self">Vote with your coffee!</a></p>
  • 01 /11 | Samuel L. Jackson - Wake the F**K Up

    Samuel L. Jackson re-teamed with Go the F*ck to Sleep author Adam Mansbach (the pair collaborated on the audio book) for this profane anti-lullaby aimed at stirring up former Obama supporters. The video is a product of the Jewish Council for Education & Research, the body behind past pro-Obama efforts like "The Great Schlep" and "Scissor Sheldon." This year, the founders of the JCER, Ari Wallach and Mik Moore, created Schlep Labs, a consultancy that brings an open innovation model to political projects, sourcing ideas from the creative community and bringing together best in class players to make those ideas happen.

  • 02 /11 | 99 Problems (Explicit Political Remix)

    Not all of the best creative ads are unstintingly pro-Obama (though most of them are). Here, mix-master Diran Lyons reinterprets Jay-Z’s "99 Problems" using snippets of Obama’s speeches (and featuring Mitt in the role of the policeman). The remix is faithful to the original in attitude and inclusion of profanity and while it makes Barry look sort of cool, it’s no paean (“I have a dream"/Well I have a drone).

  • 03 /11 | Presidential Clippings: Obama Gangnam Style, Romney 47%

    L.A.'s Stun Creative created this series which features impersonators of both candidates sitting in a barbershop flinging barbs at each other. Hey, everybody, this one is nonpartisan.

  • 04 /11 | Sarah Silverman | Let My People Vote 2012 - Get Nana A Gun

    Enough has probably been said about this one.

  • 05 /11 | Wrong Direction's "Disclosure"

    This parody of boy band One Direction slings shots at Mitt Romney’s supposed lack of financial transparency. It was created by so-called "anti-PAC" Full Frontal Freedom.

  • 06 /11 | Comedy Central's Indecision Game

    This nifty app pits Republicans and Democrats against each other in a contest of knowledge, complete with a leaderboard.

  • 07 /11 | Funny or Die: Rock the Vote

    Celebrities like Glee star Jane Lynch, Community's Joel McHale, and Miley Cyrus all explain in brief, funny snippets why they are voting (and why you should too).

  • 08 /11 | Homer Votes

    "Why do we have to choose our leaders? Isn’t that the Supreme Court’s job?" This is exactly the kind of question we can expect from Homer Simpson, and he delivers, in the sequel to 2008's Homer Votes.

  • 09 /11 | Larry David’s “It Could Have Been Worse” on the Daily Show

    It’s Larry David on The Daily Show, and it’s called It Could Have Been Worse. I think we both know where this is going.

  • 10 /11 | The Gregory Brothers – Patriot Game

    You probably knew that news-Autotuning kings, The Gregory Brothers, wouldn’t sit out this election season. Here is their video game-themed riff on the National Conventions.

  • 11 /11 | 7-Election cups

    Finally, 7-11 brought back their voting cups again. Vote with your coffee!

Given the cavalier attitude toward (some would say contempt for) facts demonstrated in the run-up to Decision 2012, it’s hard to know anything for sure about the current campaigns. But we can be fairly confident about two things about the upcoming presidential election: who Sarah Silverman is voting for and that the best politically themed creativity hasn’t come from the parties actually involved in the election.

Silverman, who’s fronted a handful of much-viewed ads for Obama, has plenty of company in the field of creative political content this election season.

It’s a tight presidential contest and creative types with opinions on who to vote for have not exactly been shy about voicing them in an attempt to activate others.

And while the candidates are consumed by raising money for TV advertising, the battle for hearts and minds is largely waged on the Internet, which is where most political messages (especially satirical ones) eventually end up. Considering that this is only the second election cycle since YouTube was a thing (hardly seems possible, right?), it’s interesting to see the impact of such messages, and whether a creative campaign message that achieves Internet fame translates to results on Election Day.

Have a look through the slide show above for some of the most engaging, entertaining, and effective examples of political creativity so far this election season. Don’t consider any of these official Co.Create endorsements, unless that prospect makes you upset, in which case, please vent your frustration in the comments.