Rouhani Rips Off Obama ‘Yes We Can’ Video in Latest PR Stunt

If Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as Benjamin Netanyahu claims, then this sheep has one savvy media team. Mere days after Iran inked a landmark nuclear deal with a team of Western negotiators, the producer for Rouhani’s electoral campaign ads released a video called "The New Journey" or "Aspirations," depending ...

By , a reporter based in New York.
YouTube
YouTube
YouTube

If Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing, as Benjamin Netanyahu claims, then this sheep has one savvy media team.

Mere days after Iran inked a landmark nuclear deal with a team of Western negotiators, the producer for Rouhani's electoral campaign ads released a video called "The New Journey" or "Aspirations," depending on the translation. It's a clip with remarkable overtones to the 2008 Obama-inspired viral video, "Yes We Can." Instead of will.i.am and 30 of his celebrity friends singing over an inspirational Obama's speech, the Iranian version performs a similar trick with Rouhani's inaugural remarks. Released to mark the first 100 days of Ruohani's time in office, the video stars Iranian celebrities and even includes a sign-language cameo -- just like its American counterpart.

And unlike the countless "Yes We Can" ripoffs -- including, for example, the version in which the late Kim-Jong-Il "Yes I Can" screeches "You Americans are talking about Hillary and Obama, well I got a hill full o bomba's" -- the Iranian one is a 100 percent serious, if not earnest.

If Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as Benjamin Netanyahu claims, then this sheep has one savvy media team.

Mere days after Iran inked a landmark nuclear deal with a team of Western negotiators, the producer for Rouhani’s electoral campaign ads released a video called "The New Journey" or "Aspirations," depending on the translation. It’s a clip with remarkable overtones to the 2008 Obama-inspired viral video, "Yes We Can." Instead of will.i.am and 30 of his celebrity friends singing over an inspirational Obama’s speech, the Iranian version performs a similar trick with Rouhani’s inaugural remarks. Released to mark the first 100 days of Ruohani’s time in office, the video stars Iranian celebrities and even includes a sign-language cameo — just like its American counterpart.

And unlike the countless "Yes We Can" ripoffs — including, for example, the version in which the late Kim-Jong-Il "Yes I Can" screeches "You Americans are talking about Hillary and Obama, well I got a hill full o bomba’s" — the Iranian one is a 100 percent serious, if not earnest.

"Let us allow Islam with its peaceful face, Iran with its rational face, the revolution with its humane face, and the establishment, with its affecting face, continue to create epics," Rouhani says in a segment of his inaugural address included in the video, which transforms the speech it into a slick Internet-ready message of unity and hope.

During his time in office, Rouhani has embarked on a remarkable charm offensive, delivering a message of peace and moderation to the world. That PR-campaign helped convince the world that a nuclear deal might be possible and in all likelihood helped deliver the Geneva agreement that put the brakes on Tehran’s nuclear program. Hossein Dehbashi, who produced the clip and who also made videos for Rouhani’s electoral campaign, called the clip "spontaneous," but that is obviously far from the truth. The video fits perfectly with the messaging campaign carried out by Rouhani and his advisers. Between Rouhani’s friendly Twitter presence and his efforts to extend at least a rhetorical olive branch to the United States, Rouhani and his minders have been highly deliberate in how they present themselves to the world.

This video is just the latest example of how savvy they are.

Hanna Kozlowska is a reporter based in New York. Twitter: @hannakozlowska

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