Flag of Treason poses the question: America or Trump?

By on Monday, June 1, 2020

As American cities erupt in protest at the death of George Floyd a new ad was dropped which bluntly nails President Donald Trump for his role as an enabler of hate and racism in the United States.  The focus of the ad is the Confederate flag. A symbol of the defence of slavery, civil war, segregation and treason, the campaign pointedly asks ‘So why does it keep showing up today at events supporting Donald Trump?’.

What makes this stark and direct attack on Trump and his Conderate flag waving supporters so extraordinary is that it wasn’t created by the Biden 2020 Election Campaign, the Democratic party or Black Lives Matter. It is the latest salvo fired by The Lincoln Project, currently making the most effective political campaigns of the moment and was founded by four leading, influential political strategists, all of whom were – until recently – lifelong Republicans. Between them they’ve created similarly effective campaigns and strategic advice for the likes of George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Dick Cheney and John McCain. As their rapid discomfort in the Trump presidency turned to disgust The Lincoln Project was formed specifically to prevent the re-election of Trump and recently announced its support for election rival Joe Biden.

Among them is George Conway who, by his own admission, ‘cried tears of joy’ the night Donald Trump beat Hilary Clinton. If his surname is vaguely familiar in the clown car of contemporary American politics, George’s wife, Kellyanne Conway, is the high-profile advisor and media cheerleader for Donald Trump. Just imagine some of the strained conversations over the family dinner table when they discuss work.

Perhaps the greatest triumph for The Lincoln Project was for its May 20 Mourning in America ad. It was another savage, personal critique of Trump, in this case on his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis and the American economy. Yet the creative genius of the campaign was more in the media-buying strategy than the ad itself.  Normally, a media buy is about reach and scale – how can we get millions of people to see and talk about this ad – but Mourning in America had a target audience of one: Donald J. Trump.

Aware that the President dedicates a large chunk of every working day escosnced in Pennsylvania Avenue obsessively watching cable TV news with his Twitter finger at the ready for any personal slight, The Lincoln Project only booked the ad for a single slot. The ad ran once only, in the Washington DC area, and during the commercial break on Hannity, Trump’s favourite programme on Fox News. The media buy for such a tiny reach cost just $5,000. Bang on cue, Trump erupted and went nuclear on Mourning in America with a series of enraged tweets to his 81 million Twitter followers around the world.

An ad that could originally only be watched by thousands went viral and a became national news story all thanks to Trump being so spectacularly and easily triggered. Not such a stable genius after all.

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