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Russia's President Vladimir Putin listens while President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at Finland's Presidential Palace on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images file

While touting US troops, Trump ad shows Russian-made fighter jets

Following reports on Trump denigrating military service, an ad from a fundraising arm of the Trump campaign tried to support the troops. It didn't go well.


It's often difficult to predict which political stories will break through and broadly affect public attitudes, but the controversy surrounding Donald Trump's denigration of military service appears to have had some effect.

Just two days ago, for example, a national ABC News/Ipsos poll asked which of the two major-party presidential candidates has more respect for the United States military. Joe Biden's advantage over the Republican incumbent was considerable: 61% to 37%. It's easy to imagine those results looking quite different were it not for the striking reporting two weeks ago in The Atlantic.

Team Trump appears to realize that it has a problem on this front, so it launched a new digital ad campaign touting support for Americans in the military. And while the idea behind the ads may have made sense, Politico noted the problem in the execution.

A digital ad released by a fundraising arm of the Trump campaign on Sept. 11 calling on people to "support our troops" uses a stock photo of Russian-made fighter jets and weapons. The ad, which was made by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, features silhouettes of three soldiers walking as a fighter jet flies over them. The ad first appeared on Sept. 8 and ran until Sept. 12.

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, confirmed to Politico that the planes are MiG-29s -- utilized by Russia since the Cold War -- and also that one of the soldiers in the Republican ad appears to be carrying an AK-74 assault rifle.

For those who work outside media and advertising, it's worth noting that use of "stock" images and footage is common, both in print and broadcast ads. A campaign may want to promote a product for new parents, for example, so ads will purchase existing images of babies, cribs, bottles, etc.

But political campaigns are usually cautious when including "stock" images and footage, precisely to avoid problems like this one.

Complicating matters, this latest revelation sounds familiar for a reason. Remember this one from July?

A new advertisement from President Donald Trump's re-election campaign features an image of a policeman being attacked, designed to show "chaos [and] violence" in the United States -- but it's actually a photo from a 2014 Ukrainian pro-democracy protest. The ad compares "public safety," shown as Trump speaking with police officials, to the "chaos [and] violence" of the Ukrainian protest image.

The protesters in the image were taking a stand against Viktor Yanukovych, in part over his ties to Moscow.

What an unfortunate coincidence that this has now happened twice in three months.