'Vote Different' vid may turn out to hurt Obama

Video maker's indirect ties to Obama campaign undercut the citizen-ad maker mythology and increase pressure on Obama to criticize him.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

Philip de Vellis, who wanted to help Barack Obama with his "Vote Different" ad on YouTube (it's now been viewed more than 2 million times) has actually done the campaign damage, analysts now say, according to the Washington Post.

"If I were a traditional media strategist, an old-school guy, I'd think, 'See, you can't trust these crazy kids,' " said Jonah Seiger, who heads the online strategy firm Connections Media. "If one of my employees did this, I'd be outraged. It would reflect badly on my company. It can't help but reflect badly on my client. . . . There's no question that this causes embarrassment to Obama."

The fallout is that pressure is building for Obama's campaign to attack de Vellis or say that his little effort doesn't help the Democratic effort.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton declined to criticize the video. He said Blue State "handled it internally and we're satisfied with their response," adding: "We can't be held responsible for everything a supporter says and does. . . . We don't hold our opponents responsible for any of a number of negative YouTube ads up there about Senator Obama."

Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communications director, said he finds it "disappointing that we all believed this ad was made by an average citizen expressing himself or herself, and that turned out not to be the case." Asked if the Obama camp should disavow the video, Wolfson said: "That's their decision."

Ariana Huffington, who outed de Vellis, said the event shows how the Internet works against anonymity.

"You can be as anonymous as you want on the Internet," Huffington said. "But the minute you create something powerful that has impact, people are going to find out who it is."
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