Donald Trump's Facebook ads use stock models to portray actual supporters
A pair of Facebook advertisements for President Donald Trump's 2020 election campaign used models to depict real supporters and stock footage of a Japanese storefront to show a US business.
The ads were published on Facebook last week by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. They began with excerpts of Trump speaking, and then a voiceover testimonial played over footage of models smiling.
In one, a female voiceover said: "President Trump is doing a great job — I could not ask for a better president of the United States of America." The voice was heard alongside images of a blond woman walking along a beach with the caption "Tracey from Florida."
In the second video, a male voiceover said: "President Trump and his family and the administration are in our prayers for strength and wisdom from God almighty. God bless." The video was of "Thomas from Washington," a bearded hipster-type leaning on the counter of a coffee shop.
However, as spotted last week by the journalist Judd Legum, the videos are stock footage. Tracey from Florida is actually walking next to the Mediterranean Sea, according to the stock video's description. The Associated Press reports that the footage of Thomas was shot in Izmir, Turkey.
Furthermore, the apparent exterior of the Washington coffee house, which the ad made look like Thomas' place of work, is actually a storefront located in Tokyo, according to stock footage on Getty Images' iStock.
The video even suggests that the campaign team tried to disguise the fact the store is in Japan. In the image below, the left-hand side shows an image from the Trump ad, and the right shows the original video on iStock.
Legum found the ads in a YouTube video, which also included an older Hispanic man designated "AJ from Texas," a Democratic voter turned Trump supporter.
The videos did feature small disclaimers that briefly flashed up saying: "Actual testimonial. Actor portrayal." The ads appeared on Facebook next to captions featuring a familiar Trump theme. "Despite the constant stream of lies from the FAKE NEWS media, my popularity is higher than ever," they said.
Both ads encouraged users to take part in a survey. They started running in late June but are now inactive, according to Facebook's Ad Library.
The distribution of the ads was most heavily concentrated in Texas, Florida, and California, according to Facebook. Facebook Ad Library stats show that overall Trump spent $392,000 on Facebook ads from last Monday to this past Sunday, the period when the ads ran.