Citizen Ads

Posted by Katherine | April 8, 2008 – 1:04 pm

They’re everywhere on YouTube and Flickr and in the blogosphere: ads made by supporters to promote their favorite candidates. They’re 2008’s Web 2.0 version of homemade posters and banners — fuelled by digital media gadgetry. This video is a good example because its creator, Phil de Vellis, explains both why he did it and the meta phenomenon:

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.

De Vellis created the ad over a year ago, and this version in his YouTube account has now been viewed over 5 million times:

If you can’t figure out why it looks vaguely familiar, it’s a takeoff of a 1984 Apple/Mac commercial. De Vellis’s point was that Obama, like Apple, represents something new and revolutionary. Sort of like the whole phenomenon of citizen ads. He says, “This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed.” However big or small that change really is, this election certainly marks its full-throttle start.


  1. One Response to “Citizen Ads”

  2. To me the ad seems familiar, or resonant, because it is ultimately derived from Plato’s “Cave Allegory” from The Republic. Didn’t pay very close attention, but thought it also had a bit of Star Wars or Sci Fi pacing and imagery going, and the whole is completed by the “Olympic Sport” imagery of a WOMAN athlete. Suspect a woman was chosen, because, well, men like to look at women, but also, on a quick look, the ad seemed to be rather aimed against Hillary and so it’s smart rhetorics to have a woman blow her up. As someone skeptical of Obama, and especially skeptical of Obama as “a radically different politician,” I found the ad a bit heavy handed and a bit too, well, angry. And what I find really objectionable is the suggestion that everyone who doesn’t agree with the ad maker’s point-of-view is an automaton who needs to be freed by literally smashing, or blowing up the evil woman who is controlling him, in some 1984 way. It’s very important for all of us to have passion for our candidates, but humility and kindness and generosity toward others, esp. rival political ideas and leaders, is a quality highly to be recommended. hitesh

    By hitesh on Apr 8, 2008

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