Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Unmasking the Maker of the Hillary 1984 Video

Arianna Huffington has the scoop:
For the last two weeks, the Internet has been buzzing about the hottest online mystery since lonelygirl15: who was behind the "Hillary 1984" video mashup?

Some suspected right wing SwiftBoaters. Some speculated it was the work of disaffected Democratic consultants. One blogger even pointed the finger at me.

As the intrigue deepened, the mainstream media joined the fray, with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both being asked about the viral smash -- and much talk about the impact user-generated political videos will have on the 2008 race.

Well, today I can end the guessing. Last night, we sent out a challenge to the HuffPost team asking them to hit the phones and contact all their sources. As a result, we have learned the video was the work of Philip de Vellis, who was the Internet communications director for Sherrod Brown's 2006 Senate campaign, and who now works at Blue State Digital, a company created by members of Howard Dean's Internet Team.

The video was posted on YouTube on March 5th under the username ParkRidge47 (Hillary Clinton was born in Park Ridge, Illinois in 1947).

In an email to, ParkRidge47 explained his reason for making the video:

The idea was simple and so was the execution. Make a bold statement about the Democratic primary race by culture jacking a famous commercial and replacing as few images as possible. For some people it doesn't register, but for people familiar with the ad and the race it has obviously struck a chord.

A friend suggested the idea after reading a New York Times article about the Clinton's campaign bullying of donors and political operatives after the Geffen dustup.

When I called Phil de Vellis, I invited him to blog on HuffPost about this, about the creation of the video, and about the explosive reaction to his work.

He has. Read his post here.

Here is the post from Phil de Vellis:

Hi. I'm Phil. I did it. And I'm proud of it.

I made the "Vote Different" ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process. There are thousands of other people who could have made this ad, and I guarantee that more ads like it--by people of all political persuasions--will follow.

This shows that the future of American politics rests in the hands of ordinary citizens.

The campaigns had no idea who made it--not the Obama campaign, not the Clinton campaign, nor any other campaign. I made the ad on a Sunday afternoon in my apartment using my personal equipment (a Mac and some software), uploaded it to YouTube, and sent links around to blogs.

The specific point of the ad was that Obama represents a new kind of politics, and that Senator Clinton's "conversation" is disingenuous. And the underlying point was that the old political machine no longer holds all the power.

Let me be clear: I am a proud Democrat, and I always have been. I support Senator Obama. I hope he wins the primary. (I recognize that this ad is not his style of politics.) I also believe that Senator Clinton is a great public servant, and if she should win the nomination, I would support her and wish her all the best.

I've resigned from my employer, Blue State Digital, an internet company that provides technology to several presidential campaigns, including, full disclosure, Obama's. The company had no idea that I'd created the ad, and neither did any of our clients. But I've decided to resign anyway so as not to harm them, even by implication.

This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed.

Mystery solved.

1 comment:

darkangel said...

De Vellis explored his creativity and expressed his freedom of speech at the same time.
I didn't see anything wrong with the Hillary 1984 video. In fact, it was kind of clever!. For me deserves more commendation than condemnation.