Ed Ball recently started an online petition to get Weird Al Yankovic to perform at halftime of the Super Bowl.
As Ball sees it, Yankovic — a gifted musician known for his family-friendly parodies and polkas — is the perfect mix of music, art and theatrics needed for the biggest halftime show on Earth.
Yankovic’s 14th album “Mandatory Fun” was released in July and reached the top spot on the Billboard 200 Music Chart the following week.
Ball is not alone in his desire to see Yankovic featured during the halftime show. Located on Change.org, Ball has gathered more than 123,000 signatures for his petition. But the momentum to bring Al to the more than 110 million people who watch the NFL championship really started with social media.
Change.org was created to allow anyone to easily create, distribute and promote petitions, and gather petition signatures. The petition’s power, however, resides in its social-media function. The more a petition is shared on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, the better chance it has of gaining signatures and, more importantly, recognition from policy-makers (or, in this case, an NFL exec).
Create Your Own Petition
If you want to right a societal wrong, no matter how serious or silly, creating an online petition is a good place to start. Change.org makes creating an online petition pretty simple.
1. Whom Are You Petitioning? You need to identify the person or group who can enact the change you want. In Ball’s case, the Weird Al petition is targeted at Tracy Perlman, NFL vice president of entertainment and marketing, who oversees the planning and promotion of the halftime show.
2. What Do You Want to Change? Ball’s plea is simple: Have Weird Al Yankovic headline the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show. He offers a good rationale, citing Yankovic’s history and success, while praising previous NFL halftime shows in an effort to curry favor with Perlman and NFL executives who will ultimately choose the lineup.
3. Include a Photo or Video. Change.org encourages petitioners to include a photo or video to help explain the issue.
While Ball did not include a video, he did post a photo of Weird Al, and because he is so well known, the inclusion of additional media is probably unnecessary. However, let’s say you wanted to petition leaders to clean up a local park. A video showing the park’s condition would almost certainly encourage more signatures.
4. Go to Social Media. The final step for any good Change.org petition is social-media promotion. Gathering signatures happens only when the petitioner goes to Facebook, Twitter, and the old standby, email, to share the petition with like-minded friends and fans. The hope is that enough people (and media outlets) see power (and a story) in the petition, and share the link with others.
Ball went to Facebook and Twitter to promote his petition, and the throngs of Al supporters joined in.
For my part, I was signature 122,477. I quickly went to Facebook and Twitter to proudly fly my nerd banner (I’ve been rocking to “Like a Surgeon” since I was 14).
Other fans and nerds like me went to Facebook and Twitter to link to Ball’s petition.
Our dream, of course, is to see Weird Al singing his famous parodies alongside musicians such as Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Pharrell at Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, 2015.
Interested in signing Ball’s petition for a Weird Al Yankovic Super Bowl halftime show? Click here to go to Ball's www.change.org petition. While you're there, check out the other petitions or maybe start one of your own.
~ A version of this post appeared in the Sunday, August 17, 2014 "Connected" section of The Vindicator.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.