President Trump’s entire political career has been built on deception, from criminal efforts to cover up his alleged affairs, all the way down to his campaign’s advertising. The latest example comes by way of Facebook commercials featuring an array of attractive, racially diverse people professing their love for the president. “I could not ask for a better president,” says “Tracey from Florida,” a young blonde woman walking on the beach in slow motion.
But “Tracey from Florida” is not a real person. Neither is “AJ from Texas,” a middle-aged Hispanic man who says he’s a “lifelong Democrat” but wants to secure the southern border. Nor is “Thomas from Washington,” a young tattooed and bearded man working in a coffee shop. They are all stock models, video footage of which the Trump campaign purchased. They’re probably not even American, as, according to the Associated Press, the footage was produced in France, Brazil, and Turkey. The campaign’s use of stock footage models was originally reported by journalist Judd Legum for his site Popular Information.
The videos feature a disclaimer that reads “Actual Testimony, Actor Portrayal” in a micro-sized font on the bottom-left portion of the screen, and only for an instant. As Legum points out, there is no evidence that the “actual testimony” comes from people representing the demographics portrayed in the ads. When “Tracey from Florida” says, “President Trump is doing a great job. I could not ask for a better president of the United States of America,” it could be a voice actor reading the words of a 75-year-old from Kentucky named Hank, or something posted anonymously to Facebook.
5. Or take "Mature Man Portrait" which is available on istockphoto under the keyword. He's rebranded as "AJ from Texas," a Democrat who became a Trump supporter pic.twitter.com/MbnOTRBpeF
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 27, 2019
It’s no accident that the campaign chose to have a young woman expressing her love for the president. Trump has struggled to draw support from women, especially young women. A Hill-HarrisX poll released last month found that 66 percent of women between the ages of 18-34 “totally oppose” his re-election. A Fox News poll released a month earlier found that 59 percent of women, 55 percent of white women, and 63 percent of college-educated white women would rather not have four more years of President Trump. In other words, there aren’t that many “Traceys from Florida” out there, which is exactly why the Trump campaign decided to create one out of stock video footage of a blonde walking on the beach at sunset.
According to the AP, the rights to the video footage can be purchased for as little as $170. The price tag is of no concern to the Trump campaign. On Tuesday, the campaign and the Republican National Committee announced they raised a combined $105 million during the year’s second quarter. In the second quarter of 2011, President Obama’s re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised a combined $85 million. Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, told the New York Times that he plans to raise $1 billion over the course of the cycle, which may be possible considering the flow of donations hasn’t shown many signs of letting up. The campaign said last month that it raised $24 million the day of Trump’s “re-election kickoff” in Orlando alone.
Parscale, who was promoted to campaign manager after running the digital operations for Trump’s 2016 campaign, is poised to once again direct a significant portion of the campaign’s resources toward social media advertising. During last week’s Democratic primary debates, the campaign bought out YouTube’s homepage, a move which Google’s ad-buying website lists as costing over $100,000.