Is it a Hollywood theatrical trailer or a political web video? An ad for a book or the launch of a presidential candidacy? Whatever it is, likely 2012 GOP presidential primary candidate Tim Pawlenty’s new video packs a punch.
The video, says Tim Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC, is intended to promote his new book, which like the video is titled, “Courage to Stand.” But that may not be entirely clear to viewers of the minute-and-a-half-long compilation of iconic American imagery set to a score of symphonic bluster, explosive sounds, and stirring rhetoric from Pawlenty.
More akin to the theatrical trailers for flicks like “Black Hawk Down” and “Independence Day” than standard candidate talking head YouTube fare, the video features footage of U.S. sailors returning home from war, The Statue of Liberty, military fighter jets, The Capitol Building, and the New York City skyline, interspersed with closely-cropped shots of gritty American workers, glum-looking children, and Pawlenty himself.
“If prosperity were easy, everybody around the world would be prosperous. If freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free,” declares Pawlenty. An explosion is heard as a painting of George Washington and his revolutionary soldiers appears on the screen. “Valley Forge wasn’t easy. Going to the moon wasn’t easy. Settling the west wasn’t easy,” Pawlenty reminds us, as a symphony reaches a crescendo.
Pawlenty unveiled the video at a Merrimack County Republican campaign event in New Hampshire, the stomping ground of all serious presidential primary contenders. Since it launched on January 24, the video had been viewed on YouTube around 130,000 times as of midday January 30, and has also garnered coverage on television.
In another web video launched January 24, featuring a more-typical close-up of the candidate in his home discussing campaign platform ideas, former Senator for Virginia George Allen announced his own candidacy for the seat he lost in 2006. The video – which also included a shot of The Statue of Liberty – concluded with Allen’s tagline, “Stay Strong for Freedom.”
“The video sort of speaks for itself,” said Alex Conant, Freedom First PAC’s communications director, of the Pawlenty video. “It’s intended to be fun and it’s intended to promote the book.” The voiceover in the video is taken from a speech Pawlenty gave at the National Press Club earlier in January.
When asked about details regarding the video’s creation, Conant said he would not reveal “the mechanics” of the video. He was also careful not to categorize it as a campaign video, saying only that Pawlenty is “seriously considering running for president and will make a decision in the coming weeks.”
“We’ve invested a lot of time and resources into having the best online presence we can,” said Conant, who works closely with the PAC’s new media team.
Pawlenty, former Minnesota Governor, created the Freedom First PAC to help Republican candidates running in the 2010 midterms. According to the PAC’s Federal Election Commission filings, analyzed by ClickZ News, the organization spent more than $85,000 on online ads between August and late October 2010. In-banner video ad network Mixpo received $40,000, while display network Resonate Networks garnered $20,000. Google grabbed around $8,000, and Facebook received more than double Google’s earnings – around $17,000. A portion of that may have gone towards a live streaming Townhall event Pawlenty held on Facebook in March, the first of its kind.
In addition to spending online to back GOP congressional contenders, Pawlenty even ran ads online for himself – despite the fact that he wasn’t running for office in 2010. A display ad paid for by Freedom First PAC that ran in 2010 compared Pawlenty’s fiscal record to that of Barack Obama:
After establishing the PAC in 2009, the team began work with Republican digital consulting firm Engage, said Conant, adding that Engage has provided “strategic advice on how to use social media to build our online base of support.” The PAC paid Engage around $25,000 for those services between July and the end of October 2010, according to FEC reports.