The creator of the atmospheric faux-Apple ad against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been unmasked as a Democratic operative who worked for a digital consulting firm with ties to Sen. Barack Obama, NBC News confirmed Wednesday night.
The operative was first identified by the political blog Huffington Post as Philip de Vellis, a strategist with Blue State Digital. After NBC News confirmed de Vellis’ identity, he publicly admitted his involvement on the same blog.
“Hi. I’m Phil. I did it. And I’m proud of it,” de Vellis said in a Huffington Post article Wednesday night.
Blue State Digital said in a statement that de Vellis had been “terminated” for violating a company policy against “outside political work or commentary on behalf of our clients or otherwise.” De Vellis contradicted that in his Web posting, insisting that he had resigned voluntarily.
The Clinton campaign had no immediate comment.
Breakthrough in digital campaigning
Although the final image of the 74-second video — a recreation of a pathbreaking 1984 television ad for Apple’s Macintosh computer — reads “BarackObama.com,” a spokesman for Obama told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the campaign played no role in creating it.
De Vellis confirmed in his Web posting that although Blue State worked for the Obama campaign, he was operating independently when he created the ad, which sparked a sensation when it was unveiled anonymously on the Web video site YouTube. Political analysts alternatively hailed or criticized it as a turning point in the development of the unregulated world of guerrilla political marketing after it recorded nearly 1.5 million views.
“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,” de Vellis wrote, adding: “This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed.”
De Vellis wrote that he admired Clinton, D-N.Y., but believed that her campaign was “disingenious,” a description he did not explain.
“The specific point of the ad was that Obama represents a new kind of politics, and that Senator Clinton’s ‘conversation’ is disingenuous,” he wrote. “And the underlying point was that the old political machine no longer holds all the power.”
The ad portrays Clinton on a huge television screen addressing robotic humans in a stark, futuristic hall. A female athlete tosses a hammer at the screen, destroying Clinton’s image with an explosive flash. Then this text: “On January 14th the Democratic primary will begin. And you will see why 2008 isn’t going to be like ‘1984.’”
De Vellis told The Associated Press that he used footage of an updated Apple ad that portrayed the female athlete wearing an iPod. He said he used standard Apple equipment to modify the video and edit Clinton’s image into the clip.