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Room for Cream

February 1, 2009 9:00 PM

What do you get when you mix a meeting at Starbucks, six hours on the streets of Manhattan and $2,500?

The genesis of one of the most successful Web networks ever.

That’s exactly how online video channel BarelyPolitical got started nearly two years ago with the super-popular viral video “I’ve Got a Crush on Obama” starring Obama Girl. She’s played by actress Amber Lee Ettinger, who detailed the network’s inauspicious beginnings at last week’s NATPE convention in Las Vegas.

“The idea came when [BarelyPolitical creator] Ben Relles e-mailed me out of the blue and said, ‘I have a fun project if you’re interested.’ We met at a Starbucks and he played me the song ‘I’ve Got a Crush on Obama’ and it reminded me of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit,” she said.

She donned her high heels and tight T-shirt and spent the next six hours on-camera looking lustful for then-candidate Barack Obama.

Mr. Relles recouped his initial investment via sales of T-shirts and song downloads, and BarelyPolitical has gone on to rack up more than 125 million views for all of its videos created since then.

“I had no idea the video would take off the way it did. We did it when [Obama] was polling 11%,” Mr. Relles said.

—Daisy Whitney

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