A 23-year-old Canadian filmmaker who used to work with the Clintons is becoming an increasingly crucial component of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s endangered White House bid. Lucas R. Baiano is a political wunderkind who crafts online campaign commercials for Governor Perry and, after four disastrous debate outings, effective advertising may be the Governor’s last shot to win the Republican nomination.
The New York Times explained how commercials are vital to Governor Perry’s chance of recovering from his debate debacles:
“Presidential primary campaigns — for all the focus on televised debates and house parties in New Hampshire — are still waged and won with millions of dollars on the airwaves.
There have been almost no television commercials during 2011, but that will change soon. … That next phase will probably play more to Mr. Perry’s strengths. He has a campaign war chest that is second only to Mr. Romney’s. And he has hired slick ad makers whose hard-hitting Web videos are previews of the kind of highly critical television ads that are expected to flood this state and others early on the primary calendar.”
So far, the key player among the “slick ad makers” setting the tone for Governor Perry’s campaign commercials is Mr. Baiano, who has been called a prodigy and compared to Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer and even Banksy. On a Facebook page that appears to belong to Mr. Baiano, his interests include a slew of Republican politicians, the fast food restaurant Hardee’s and former President Bill Clinton, who gave him his start in politics. His photo albums display a fondness for copious amounts of hair gel, flashy suits and sunglasses–couture more commonly associated with the Jersey Shore than the campaign trail.
Mr. Baiano is a dual citizen from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario whose family has a history of supporting Democrats. He met President Clinton at a book signing in late 2007 where he asked for a role on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. President Clinton got Mr. Baiano raw footage for the teenage auteur to craft into a campaign commercial that subsequently became a YouTube sensation.
When Ms. Clinton was defeated by President Obama in the Democratic primary, Mr. Baiano defected to the Republican Party where he worked on Sen. John McCain’s failed presidential bid, Republican Will Morefield’s successful 2009 campaign for Virginia’s House of Delegates and as director of visual media and film for the Republican Governors Association.
Mr. Baiano began the 2012 campaign making videos for former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, but he switched to Governor Perry’s side in September after Mr. Pawlenty dropped out of the race. So far, Mr. Baiano, who describes himself as a fan of Hollywood heavyweights Ron Howard, James Cameron and Paul Haggis has earned high marks for his Perry campaign ads which have been called “hard-hitting” and “like a trailer for a Rick Perry action movie.”
In a March interview with the blog Citizentube Mr. Baiano outlined the philosophy behind his ads.
“Cinematic style happens to be my creative style. It’s never been ‘boring’ and it’s never been done to this extent in the political forum, so I’m excited to be pioneering a new frontier,” Mr. Baiano said.
Mr. Baiano also believes social media is an integral component of election victories in the modern media landscape. In the same interview he said, “you need to incorporate all social media elements in order to create and establish a successful campaign.” Mr. Baiano brings the same grandiose style to social media that he employs in his web ads. Along with his Facebook, Mr. Baiano has a Twitter page he seldom uses.
“I don’t tweet much, but when I do, it’s big,” he wrote in rare June 2010 update.
With ads set to be one of Governor Perry’s final shots at an election upset, he better hope Mr. Baiano’s big reputation and even bigger attitude can translate into big results in a national election for the first time.