Perry Pushes Iowa Faith Message on Pandora and Facebook

Rick Perry’s online campaign is targeting faith-based Iowa caucus voters. A newly-strengthened digital staff has been targeting Iowa evangelicals through Facebook ads, pushing faith-oriented messaging to country and holiday music listeners on Pandora, and driving pro-Perry mobile messages to students at Christian colleges in the Hawkeye state.

Primary observers suggest the Perry camp’s message to Iowa voters is focused on conservative Christian ideals, and his online ad and social media efforts appear to be in lock step.

Iowa residents reminiscing with Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” on Pandora may hear an audio spot in which the Texas Governor professes, “I think we all need God’s help.” The 15-second ads, targeted to Iowans listening to country, holiday, Christian, and 80s music, are accompanied by standard display and large background ads on the streaming audio site, and are also aimed at mobile Pandora users. Longer versions of the “Faith” ad have been running on TV and radio.

Several different ad creatives on Facebook and in Google’s content network linking to related videos are aimed at veterans, evangelicals, and other groups in Iowa.

Like the “Faith” video which the campaign is still heavily advertising online, another recent video, entitled “Strong,” has attracted media coverage and taken flak, in part for its implication that gays should not be allowed to serve in the military. The campaign is no longer doing much to promote the Strong video, but both have similar messaging. “I’m not ashamed to talk about my faith,” declares Perry in the Faith video; in Strong, he says, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian.” Most of Perry’s YouTube videos feature overlay ads that link to the campaign site or elsewhere.

Until recently, Perry’s campaign had done little online advertising, but changes to the campaign’s digital media approach – including a new addition to the digital staff – seem to be changing that. Vincent Harris, founder and CEO of Republican digital shop, Harris Media, recently joined the Perry camp in a lead digital role.

New digital campaign elements, along with the online ads and increase in web video, include a special Facebook tab aimed at Iowa voters that links to a “caucus for Rick Perry” signup form, and Iowa-centric profile images on Facebook and Twitter.

Last week, Perry ads on Facebook encouraged former supporters of Herman Cain to make the switch to Perry. Other recent online efforts include a new microsite, EstablishmentInsider.com, which features a negative TV spot lumping together Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as supporters of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform. The site encourages people to share the video via email, Facebook, or Twitter, and plays on the “Washington Outsider” reputation Perry is hoping to cultivate.

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