The Trump Make America Great Again Committee is using videos of stock models in Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, as reported by the Associated Press. The angle is that these people, who appear in “stock” images used for editorial or advertising purposes, are portraying Trump supporters. These short videos have been found on Trump’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
While this is … odd, to say the least, it gets murkier. These videos include testimonials from “supporters,” but it all raises the question: How do we know what’s real? And what’s the subliminal message, here, when people in stock images are chosen?
Let’s look at one example: Tracey from Florida.
She says she “could not ask for a better president of the United States of America.” But again: Who is Tracey? Or better yet, what are her values? Is the beach she’s at even in Florida? Apparently, no. The footage was apparently produced outside of the U.S., in places including Brazil, France, and Turkey.
The video in this ad belongs to iStock, which is owned by Getty Images. As the Associated Press notes, “Tracey” appears in numerous videos for other organizations, and even other countries. Basically, this footage is available to anyone on the internet, provided you pay a fee to use it.
Perhaps more disturbingly, another popular ad using stock footage tells AJ’s story. AJ says he was a lifelong Democrat but has shifted gears. Why? He believes the nation “must secure its borders.” Blegh.
Here’s AJ’s video:
What exactly is Trump’s campaign trying to suggest? That his supporters are relatively attractive, young to middle-aged, and white or Latinx? That they look like “ordinary” (albeit, model-level attractive) people? Regardless, if Trump has so many supporters who are willing to fill stadium after stadium for him, why isn’t the campaign including these real people in his videos?
In the past, we’ve talked about how much money Trump spends on online ads. Interestingly, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee (which is the group responsible for the above testimonials) is a heavy-hitter when it comes to spending on political ads on Facebook. In the last 90 days, according to Facebook’s database of ad spending, they’ve dumped more than $2.7 million into Facebook ads. Donald J. Trump for President Inc., in comparison, has spent about $1 million in the same time period.
Assumably, the campaign gets away with these testimonial videos because of the disclaimer in tiny text on the videos. It reads, “actual testimonial, actor portrayal.” But again: Who really gave these testimonials, and why aren’t they in these videos?
Talk about fake news.