CLEVELAND, Ohio – Despite describing the United States as the “greatest country in the history of the world” in his announcement that he would run for U.S. Senate, businessman Mike Gibbons used foreign stock footage in his video introducing himself to Ohio voters.
In a nearly three-minute long video announcing his candidacy, Gibbons, a Republican, opined on the state of Washington and the current political climate in the United States, accompanied by high definition images of what looked like average, everyday Americans.
The problem? Some of that footage was shot overseas in Russia and Ukraine.
That includes a portion of the video at around 59 seconds. Gibbons, laying out his background of starting his own business and becoming independently wealthy, explained why he was running for office.
“Now I’m running for the U.S. Senate to make sure other people have the ability to achieve their American dream,” Gibbons said.
The line is overlaid on a brief video of a young couple walking hand-in-hand with their daughter in a field.
That footage comes from stock video site Pond5, a New York-based firm for stock photos, videos and music. The video, which costs $69 for high definition or $118 for 4K high definition, was filmed in Russia, according to Pond5.
Later in his announcement video, Gibbons briefly outlined his political thesis.
“I believe that families matter, churches matter, neighborhoods and small towns matter,” he said.
The campaign overlaid the words “families matter” on a video of a family having their photo taken during a meal. According to Pond5, the video was filmed in Ukraine.
The Gibbons campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Gibbons is not the only politician who has used foreign footage and images to promote American themes in their ads. It’s a relatively common blunder, though one most politicians try to avoid making — especially those running on a pro-nationalist platform about the ideals of the United States.
Republican former President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee did it during the 2020 election. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat, used a photo of a Kenyan woman on his website during the 2020 Democratic primary detailing his plan to address racism in America.
Ryan Stubenrauch, a communications consultant with Columbus-based Communications Counsel who has produced videos for political candidates, said it’s normally best practice to find out where stock footage was filmed before putting it in an ad.
“While it probably doesn’t matter to 95% of people who see where it was filmed, it’s a smart idea to check the location of your stock video to avoid a situation like this,” he said. “It could’ve been worse if someone used stock footage of Pittsburgh instead of Ohio.”