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This land is your land, this land is Bush’s land

Prior to the 2004 election, a buzz was started online over an animation featuring candidates John Kerry and George W. Bush singing and acting to the tune of “This Land is Your Land.” Gregg Spiridellis, the creator, recently spoke at Eastern about his own experiences within the entertainment world.

On Friday, November 4, nestled in the top floor of Walton Hall in the Baird Library, Spiridellis spoke softly to a small group of students about his internet company JibJab Media.

Dr. Charles McCormick, the dean of Cabrini College and his wife were also on hand to hear the presentation.

A graduate from Rutgers University, Spiridellis went into the business world armed with a degree in finances and later returned to school at Wharton where he received an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management.

Equipped with such fine credentials, Spiridellis had no trouble finding a job and made a steady income at a young age, but longed for something else.

“I was looking for a new challenge,” he said as he spoke about the creation of his new online project.

In 1999, JibJab Media was created by Spiridellis and his brother Evan, who thought it would be a good way to combine business elements with creativity and humor.

Their website featured Flash animations that featured folk songs with various politicians that incorporated humor and satire. Spiridellis and his brother’s first creation was a comical rap video featuring Al Gore and George W. Bush in light of the 2000 election.

“This animation was actually featured on Mad TV and it was our first big publicity stint,” Spiridellis said.

The publicity from this animation opened up new opportunities and had Spiridellis looking ahead to the 2004 election.

The duo created a short animation to “This Land is Your Land,” which essentially put them on the map and generated a lot of hype.

With witty commentary that criticized both the Republican and Democratic Parties, the animation became very popular and received 100,000 views on its first day.

“‘This Land’ was a phenomenon and I don’t know if we will ever be able to duplicate something like that ever again,” Spiridellis said, explaining that over 80 million people have downloaded this popular cartoon.

JibJab was then thrust into the limelight, and the Spiridellis brothers were featured on the Tonight Show, Today Show, Fox and CNN as their company continued to gain popularity.

“This opened tons of doors for us,” Spiridellis said, “We cut deals with Yahoo and MSN and created all of the trailers for the Sundance Film Festival as well as signed some corporate deals.”

The Los Angeles based company grew from two employees to eight, and they have even pitched a movie idea to Warner Brothers.

Spiridellis is married to the daughter of Eastern English professor Caroline Cherry, and is anxiously awaiting the birth of a child this spring.

“The dream would be to start a kids entertainment company, but that is years away,” Spiridellis said as he joked that his child would be in college before he started that.

Spiridellis closed the evening and offered some words of encouragement to anyone who would be potentially interested in following in his footsteps.

“Just do it,” Spiridellis emphasized, “Make something like a two minute video, put it online and who knows what could happen?”

Check out Spiridellis’ work at www.jibjab.com.

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