THE BLOG
06/15/2007 07:33 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Vid Different: "Hillary 1984" Creator Phil de Vellis on ObamaGirl and the YouTube Wildcard

Yesterday, I wrote about the new ObamaGirl video and, more generally, the impact of YouTube videography on the 2008 election (yeah, I know, me and everyone else). I remember when the "Hillary 1984" video came out — as surely as that jogger whipped a huge metal, um, joust thing? into the giant Big Brother screen, so, too, did that homegrown, renegade ad smash the old model of carefully-modulated candidate ads and hyper-message-control into smithereens. The creator of that video was unmasked — by HuffPo, no less! — as one Phil de Vellis, former Internet communications director for the Sherrod Brown campaign, who, at the time of the ad, was soon to be an ex-employee of Blue State Digital, a political consultancy firm founded by members of Howard Dean's Internet Team. Following the success of the "Hillary 1984" video, de Vellis was snapped up by Murphy Putnam Media (makers of the funny Bill Richardson ads also mentioned in yesterday's post), and now happily opines on how renegade YouTube video is shaking up the political game (that, in fact, is how I came to meet him, at the Mesh conference in Toronto last month). The success of ObamaGirl instantly made me think of Phil, of course, and not just because he looks great in a pink bikini. I asked him to hold forth on the subject of how YouTube is bringing the power to the people, and he happily obliged below. Take it away, Phil! And me asking questions!


What do you think about the "I've Got A Crush on Obama" video?

The Obama Girl video is very well produced and is a lot of fun. Not to mention the song is very catchy. I love how they found a crew and the model through Craig's List and did it in 2 hours. You gotta love their DIY 2.0 spirit.

Do you think it's funny?

I laughed when I watched it. Usually in political parody, it is the candidate being made fun of. In this case, the candidate is incidental. The real targets are this ditzy fan and sappy top 40 songs. It is mostly just good light-hearted fun. It is a bit risque, but you have to be a little outrageous to get any attention on the Internet.

Do you think it helps or hurts Obama?

It definitely doesn't hurt him. The only take away from this video is that Obama is an attractive candidate. What's so bad about that? It probably builds some buzz about his candidacy. Internet viewers are like most Americans. They don't follow politics. You've got this relatively small group that does, but most people don't pay attention until the very end. This video exposes a much wider segment of internet users to Obama's candidacy, which can only be a good thing for him.

Do you think stuff like this has an impact with voters? Gets people more engaged?

Yeah, I think it shows that politics can be fun and lead to acts of unexpected creativity. I think a great example is the rapper 'The Real Jin', who made a song in support of Obama and eventually did some canvassing for Barack. Campaigns can be a lot of fun, but ultimately the fun must be converted to action on the ground that delivers votes on election day.

Is this a bump for Obama, seen lately as flatlining in the polls? Or is this the worst possible publicity?

It is way too early to take any polls seriously, which makes it impossible to have a real sense of where the momentum is going. The campaign shouldn't be overly excited or concerned about this. But regular citizens should be thrilled. Now everyone has a chance to express themselves for free on YouTube and even get national attention if their work is good enough.

Do you think there will be imitators?

Certainly. This is just the beginning. Americans are so frustrated with the political process right now that they are dying to have their voices heard. You're gonna see a lot of this stuff.

Obama Girl, Hillary 1984, Bill Richardson: Today's Lesson In YouTube [ETP]
Phil de Vellis: I Made The Vote Different Ad [HuffPo]
"Hillary 1984" Mystery Solved! De Vellis Is De Videographer [ETP]
Decision 2008: YouTube Will Not Be Ignored [ETP]