If there's anything that stings, it's having your clever, time and money-saving tricks of the trade put on blast. That's what just happened to a host of state senate candidates in Iowa, thanks to the reporting of Pat Rynard of Iowa Startling Line — eight candidates in total apparently descended on the same school to record a series of campaign commercials, giving each of their campaign ads a slightly, let's say, impersonal feel. Namely, this was because the Iowa state senate candidates all had the same kids in their ads, with footage and pictures apparently taken inside the very same school hallway.
As Rynard notes, it's not as though you can necessarily criticize them for it. This is far from the world of high-profile, national stage politics. Rather, running for the state senate (especially in a relatively rural state like Iowa) can be a relatively anonymous affair. And as such, things like name recognition — simple to some, especially in this current presidential race — are matters of seismic importance, even when the money is scarce.
Nonetheless, however, it's pretty strange to watch — just look at these three campaign ads, from Waylon Brown, Craig Johnson, and Jeff Edler respectively.
Make no mistake, this isn't the first time political candidates have been embarrassed by the fact that their advertising imagery is not, shall we say, entirely original. During the 2012 presidential election, BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski rounded up a slew of examples between President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney's ads alone.
It's basically a standard practice in politics. Sometimes, you need a thematically appropriate image to paste into your advertisement, and sometimes the images you have on hand aren't quite on-brand enough. Under normal circumstances, it might be embarrassing for it to be caught, but it's far from controversial.
That is, unless something really wildly inappropriate gets used, or something that crucially undermines the very point of the ad. For a prime example, you need look no further than Donald Trump's Twitter account, which once (inadvertently, most assuredly) featured an image containing Nazi soldiers on the march, against an American flag backdrop.
All in all, you can forgive the occasional flub here or there, but boy was that one unfortunate. Also, perhaps needless to say, the sort of mildly embarrassing cookie-cutter situation these Iowa state senate candidate find themselves in is a lot more defensible. They don't have the full benefit of a robust, multi-million dollar campaign apparatus behind them, which makes the occasional gaffe or awkward situation just a little more understandable.
Image: Craig Johnson for Iowa Senate/Facebook