BY: WILL STEAKIN and TERRANCE SMITH, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — A new ad released by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign that looked to capitalize on the August jobs report to portray the country as being in the middle of a “great American comeback” features foreign stock footage.
The ad, which paints an incomplete picture of the American economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, does so in part by featuring stock footage from countries outside the United States, including a warehouse in Ukraine and publicly available footage of two models — one from Italy and another from Ukraine – but which appear in the ad to represent images from the U.S.
At around the 15-second mark, the ad targets former Vice President Joe Biden by claiming he would “kill countless American businesses, jobs and our economic future” and flashes a clip showing what is meant to represent a U.S. warehouse with the lights being dramatically turned off.
But the footage is readily available stock images of a Ukrainian wallpaper warehouse from a video production company named PromZone Media Group, the company confirmed to ABC News.
Earlier in the ad, two models are shown looking distraught as the narrator warns that a Biden administration would reverse progress made amid the pandemic, but the footage also is from outside the United States, using models from Europe.
A woman shown looking upset while using a cell phone is Ukrainian and the footage was shot in Ukraine, Ukrainian production studio Stockbusters confirmed to ABC News.
Footage in the ad showing a man looking distraught in front of a desktop computer is from stock footage websites and, according to the credits, is from Italy and credited to an Italian photographer.
The ad is currently running in battleground states with a little over half a million behind it across North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, according to ad service firm CMAG. It is part of the campaign’s effort to push past the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the country since January and to shift attention to the economic recovery despite millions of Americans remaining unemployed.
The Trump campaign declined to comment.
In the ad, the Trump campaign uses the August jobs report to claim the economy is on the rebound but fails to mention that millions of Americans still unemployed and that the unemployment numbers are still far higher than before the pandemic. In February, the unemployment rate was 3.5% and is now 8.4%, though unemployment has fallen from record highs during hit during the pandemic and not seen since the Great Recession.
This is not the first time the Trump campaign has inserted foreign stock footage into its advertisements, though it is not clear whether decisions to do so have been intentional. Not every piece of stock footage has a clear indication of when or where the photos or videos are from — and failure to vet them can result in embarrassing situations.
In 2016, astute observers of one Trump campaign tweet noticed that soldiers pictured on a graphic image blurred by the American flag were actually wearing Nazi SS uniforms. The campaign then told The Guardian that the photo selection was the fault of of “a young intern who did not see the very faded figures within the flag of the stock photo.” The intern later apologized and deleted the tweet.
Earlier this summer, as protests arose in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, the Trump campaign used an image from Ukrainian protests in 2014 next to an image of Trump meeting with law enforcement officials at the White House. Captioned under the two photos were the words “Public safety vs chaos & violence,” an attempt to show supporters that Trump is best suited to handle the protests.
And last year, the Trump campaign released a series of Facebook ads to highlight real voters across the country who were endorsing the president’s reelection campaign by using models in stock video footage from France, Brazil and Turkey.
One of the actors described as “AJ from Texas” can be found under the search “Mature Man Portrait stock video” on Getty Images. During the ad, small text at the bottom of the screen reads “actual testimonial, actor portrayal.”
ABC News’ Soorin Kim contributed to this report.
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