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An animated reflection on one of Obama’s most famous catchphrases

(Screenshot: "The Story of an Iconic Obama Campaign Chant, Animated"/The Atlantic)

On Barack Obama’s last full day as president of the United States, The Atlantic decided to reflect back on one of his most famous catchphrases. In this lovely animated video, Obama explains how he came upon his 2008 slogan “Fired up, ready to go.” Directed by Dan Fipphen and Elyse Kelly, the video features animation by 12 different artists from around the world. And that ever-changing visual style adds an extra dose of whimsy to the already rather whimsical nature of the phrase’s origin story.


Obama first heard the cheer on a rainy campaign stop in Greenwood, South Carolina. He was already having a pretty miserable day before he arrived at a speaking event where the 15-20 attendees also looked pretty unhappy to be there too. That is, until a woman in the back suddenly yelled “Fired up!” and everyone else in the room chanted the phrase back at her. She then yelled “Ready to go!” and the same thing happened. Obama goes on to talk about the rather eccentric woman who started the call and response (she held a position at her local NAACP office and worked as a private eye), and how the simple chant was able to dramatically shift his mood and—in turn—give him momentum in the campaign.

Though it might not seem like it at first, the video is a bittersweet one. The audio comes from a speech Obama gave just hours before Election Day while campaigning for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire (Clinton would go on to win the state by a margin of 0.37 percent, or about 2,700 votes). Obama’s optimism looks different now than it did before Election Day, but the video is a lovely tribute to the specific brand of hope he brought to his presidency.

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