02:11 AM

'Vote Different' creator had ties to Obama, is fired from his design job

Ariana Huffington was about to out Philip de Vellis - a designer with the firm that created Barack Obama's website - as the creator of the infamous Vote Different YouTube video, which mashes up Apple's 1984 ad with Hillary Clinton's own campaign imagery to create a compelling online ad for Obama, the Chronicle reports.

So de Vellis came forward and wrote a post for Huffington in which he admits to authorship and says that he has resigned from his employer, Blue State Digital.

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.

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.

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

He says that he decided to resign even though the company had no knowledge of the ad not did its clients - "so as not to harm them, even by implication."

The company, wanting to maintain its credibility as a trustworthy vendor, says that de Vellis was summarily fired.

Pursuant to company policy regarding outside political work or commentary on behalf of our clients or otherwise, Mr. de Vellis has been terminated from Blue State Digital effective immediately.

The main point, though, is whether de Vellis' connection to the Obama campaign detracts from the storyline that citizen advertising will be a vibrant and power-attracting force. It does, to a degree, but only to a very modest one. Clearly, there are many designers and video artists who are fully capable of creating work like "Vote Different." The real artistry of the video was Ridley Scott's direction. What de Vellis did was production work.

The Chron quotes Peter Leyden of the New Politics Institute:

He said "it makes sense" to hear that the campaign ad creator is part of such a professional design firm. "But it bears out that (de Vellis) did not use high-end animation. (He used) a skill that is widespread in the Internet that many people in their 20s and 30s can do and on software that is accessible.''

"It's disappointing to hear that he's associated with a firm that is associated with Barack,'' he said. But "it shows that someone who has a decent amount of talent and basic tools can do meaningful political video. If he did it on the side in his day job, then he's one of hundreds of thousands who could do the same.''