LOS ANGELES – A bizarre campaign ad by Senate candidate Carly Fiorina featuring what has been dubbed a "Demon Sheep" has transcended California politics to become an Internet sensation, but analysts wonder if it was such a good idea.
The Internet video, which features a man in a sheep costume with glowing red eyes crawling around a meadow, has gone viral -- with the official version clocking nearly 450,000 views on YouTube as of Friday.
Since its release on Wednesday, the Demon Sheep also has inspired a Facebook group, Twitter feeds and a T-shirt line.
But political experts say the point behind the three-minute, 21-second blurb, attacking Fiorina's top rival for the Republican nomination, Tom Campbell, as a "fiscal conservative in name only," may have been lost.
"I thought the spot was right on as far as its message, but we're not talking about Campbell's record, we're talking about sheep and devil eyes and everything else," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political analyst and publisher of the California Target Book that tracks state elections.
The spot opens with seemingly harmless sheep grazing in a meadow before turning ominous as a white column rises into a darkened sky carrying a single member of the flock, accompanied by thunder and lightning.
Much of the rest of the ad is devoted to commentary criticizing Campbell, interspersing his picture with images of sheep, before showing the red-eyed impostor lurking in tall grass, apparently spooking the flock.
Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, is making her first foray into politics, and her opponents seized on the ad to charge that she is not ready for prime time.
"Carly Fiorina's campaign is in full Mutton Meltdown mode, with an increasingly bizarre fixation on farm animals," Campbell, who leads both Fiorina and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore in polls, said in a statement posted on his website.
DeVore, who is running third in the race to challenge Democratic incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer in the November election, launched a website for the "society for the eradication of demon sheep from our political discourse."
A spokeswoman for Fiorina called the video a success.
"We're very happy with how effective this controversial and eye-catching web video has been because it's drawn attention to Tom Campbell's record as a fiscal liberal," Julie Soderlund said. "I think you can expect to see more shocking content out of our campaign moving forward," she said. "Stay tuned."
© 2016 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.