When Frank Chi ’07 called William Donahoe ’08 late in 2008 about helping him create a website, neither would have expected that four years later, they would be producing online content for a U.S. Senate campaign. The two had previously collaborated as students at Bowdoin for the College Democrats of America, and quickly began working together in the evenings after their day jobs. 

Together, they created The Antebellum Project: a self-funded website that tells stories about Civil War era Bowdoin alumni. Chi and Donahoe became fascinated with the stories and the ways they were connected. What started as a simple outlet for their creative instincts became the start of their business.

“We didn’t create it with the intent of making any money. It was a passion project,” wrote Donahoe in an email to the Orient. “But now clients can use it as an example of our capabilities.”

Chi and Donahoe now help run  the company Chi/Donahoe Cole/Duffey, which produces videos and social media content for political campaigns and interest groups. 

In the 2012 election, Chi and Donahoe worked with various Democratic campaigns notably that of Elizabeth Warren, who won the Massachusetts Senate seat from Republican Scott Brown. 

“We helped the campaign present her brand to voters online,” wrote Donahoe. They produced logos, microsites and videos in support of a very successful Warren campaign. 

“A candidate like Elizabeth Warren doesn’t come around very often. Her victory was the result of tireless efforts of a lot of people, and we were glad to be a small part of it,” said Chi. “One of the middle class’ strongest advocates now has a voice in the Senate.” 

In an age of increasingly rapid developments in technology and information dispersal, online media and social networking can highlight trends in people’s political views, according to  Chi. 

“The way media is digested today, buzzwords and trends are already played out the moment they hit the mainstream,” he wrote. “Politics is a very late adopter of technology and new media.” 

Chi and Donahoe focus on understanding trends in social media and use that information to help their client tell their story well. 

“The answer will rarely be, ‘Congressman, the solution is a cat video,’” wrote Chi. “[A politician’s] thought process is more along the lines of seeing particular issues that people seem to be clicking the most on. They then consider the options, such as making a shareable video about a candidate’s views on that issue.” 

“We concern ourselves with trends insofar as the new methods of communication they present,” wrote Donahoe. “But the kernel of truth is the same across all mediums, new and old. What are Facebook share images other than print ads on your Timeline that you can ‘like’?” 

Chi and Donahoe also have colleagues who work with them on their website. Jim Cole and Aaron Duffey created the television campaign for Mainers United for Marriage, which successfully campaigned for homosexual couples’ right to be legally married in Maine. 

“They’re incredibly proud of the win for equality and we’re proud to be associated with them,” said Donahoe.

The pair believes that the company’s mission is to tell a story. But asked if they’d support a Republican story, the answer was an emphatic “no”. Chi and Donahoe are firmly Democrats.

“We would never work for Republicans unless we suddenly became Republicans—which will never happen,” wrote Donahoe.