Agency Crowdsourced This Mosaic of Standing Ovation GIFs as a Thank-You to Obama

Deep Focus and Giphy team up for a digital send-off

If there was ever a time to give President Obama a standing ovation, today is the day. And GIFs—lots of them—are helping make it happen.

To offer Obama one final thank-you for the past eight years, Deep Focus came up with a way to let everyone give the president a round of applause. The agency created The Standing O, a microsite that collects user-submitted GIFs of people giving Obama a standing ovation that then become a mosaic of Obama himself. So far, thousands of people have submitted videos of themselves applauding the president, resulting in a recreation of the image of Obama that appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in 2008.

"This is meant to be a shining light in the darkness of the divisive past six months"
Deep Focus chief creative officer John Reid

“I think we were all postelection looking for another way that we could express ourselves while not being overly political and still giving thanks where thanks is due,” said Michael Asaro, head of production at Deep Focus.

For the project, Deep Focus partnered with Giphy and NowThis to collect GIFs of people facing the camera and applauding or videos of them that were then turned into GIFs by the agency’s team. Images were then moderated to make sure they were not offensive, and then algorithms placed them in the photo based on color schemes.

Zooming in on the mosaic brings each individual GIF into focus. There are people of all ages and races, soldiers in uniform, kids with Snapchat filters, people with their cats. (Each time someone uploads their own, they receive an email with a link to exactly where in the image their GIF appears.)

While other agencies and brands have done similar mosaics in the past, most have used still images. However, GIFs offer a few perks. They take up less bandwidth than video and also are silent, which makes them easier to moderate since there is no offensive language or messaging to worry about.

According to Deep Focus chief creative officer John Reid, the GIF portrait is somewhat of a “living, breathing” tribute wall, which will continue to collect images even after Obama’s term ends and Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.

“I feel like this election was so toxic,” Reid said. “Such a weird time in American history. I feel like this one was so tough that we wanted to do something positive and remember that the country is in a way better place than it was eight years ago.”

The agency is hoping someone will be able to share the link with Obama himself so he can see the thousands of people showing their appreciation for his service.

“This is meant to be a shining light in the darkness of the divisive past six months,” Reid said.