- Donald Trump’s 2020 election campaign published Facebook ads using stock footage.
- The videos appear to show Trump supporters such as “Tracey from Florida,” but include small disclaimers saying, “Actual testimonial. Actor portrayal.”
- The footage actually comes from as far afield as Tokyo, Turkey, and the Mediterranean — and there is evidence that efforts were made to disguise this fact.
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Facebook adverts for 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 two ads were published on Facebook late last month by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. They begin with excerpts of Trump speaking, then a voiceover testimonial plays over footage of models smiling.
In one, a female voiceover says: “President Trump is doing a great job, I could not ask for better president of the United States of America.” She speaks alongside images of a blonde woman walking along a beach, with the caption “Tracey from Florida.”
In the second video, a male voiceover says: “President Trump and his family and the administration are in our prayers for strength and wisdom from God almighty. God bless.” The video is of “Thomas from Washington,” a bearded hipster-type leaning on the counter of a coffee shop.
However, as spotted last week by 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. AP reports that the footage of Thomas was shot in Izmir, Turkey.
Furthermore, the exterior of the Washington coffee house, which the ad makes look like Thomas’ place of work, is actually a storefront located in Tokyo, Japan, according to stock footage on Getty Images’ iStock.
The video even suggests that the campaign team tried to disguise the fact the store is actually in Japan. In the image below, the left-hand side shows a screen grab from the Trump advert, 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 former Democrat voter turned Trump supporter. The video of AJ did not appear in the Facebook Ad Library when searched by Business Insider.
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
The videos do feature small disclaimers which briefly flash up saying “Actual testimonial. Actor portrayal.” The ads are juxtaposed 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 read.
Both ads encourage users to take part in an official 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 in just one week between June 24 and June 30, the period in which these adverts ran.
Business Insider asked Facebook if the adverts raised any concerns. We will update if we hear back. Trump officials declined to comment when contacted by NBC News.