Rick Perry celebrates the launch of his campaign inside a budget sauna. (Photo: Brandon Wade/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)
Today, Rick Perry stood at a podium in an overheated Texas airplane hangar and announced his second bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Aside from the fact that Perry has traded his cowboy boots for black-framed glasses and begun directly addressing millennials in public, it was a familiar scene. Perry ran a famously disastrous campaign for president in 2012 (“oops”), and many of his fellow Republican competitors have also announced their intentions to run over the past few months.
But any politician who is running for national office less than a year after his indictment must have a few tricks up his sleeve. And judging from his meticulously designed website, a well-branded digital presence is one of them. Join us in our latest installment of RevURL as we explore RickPerry.org.
Look and feel
Perry’s site is headed by a campaign video that is filmed and edited in a modern, quick-paced way. It fades in and out of scenes of daily life in America as Perry’s voice floats in the background, promising that he will be the leader to transcend the “petty partisanship” of Washington, D.C. It’s sort of like a boring version of Madonna’s “Ray of Light” music video, but much more eye-catching than your average campaign video. Perhaps he had those young’uns in mind.
Scroll down and you arrive at a nice, airy layout, with illustrated icons designed to look like buttons framed by plenty of white space. In reality, all three of these buttons, labeled “Meet Rick,” “Veteran,” and “Governor,” link to the same “About” page. But hey, you have to hand it to whatever designer commissioned them for at least creating the illusion of content! (These crisp little symbols are peppered throughout Perry’s digital headquarters and give it a welcoming, original feel.)
The dynamic graphics continue when you arrive at some significant stats during Perry’s tenure as the longest-serving Texas governor. All of it is very grabby, easy-to-consume content that’s easily Facebook post-able or tweet-able. No fine print or explanation.
While the site’s mobile version is entirely readable, some of its images appear to be out of proportion. And his 404 page is a snoozefest compared with those of his competitors.
Rick Perry’s round logo is confusing and slightly psychedelic. It resembles a presidential seal, which is at the very least ambitious. Around its border it reads “Perry President.” At its center is a P with a star in its loop. I already hate a forced star illustration, but Perry’s takes it to another horrible level by wrapping one point of the star around the stem of the P, so that it looks as if it’s slowly being sucked into some unknown wormhole. Not a fan.
Perry’s approach to issues is to be as vague as possible. In this section of his website, in one or two sentences he summarizes his views on the economy (grow it), taxes (lower them), the federal deficit (eliminate it), national security (restore its greatness), and special interests (not cool). He doesn’t ever hint at how he’ll make these miraculous things happen — though I’m sure his glasses will ultimately play a role in it all. You could probably get more details about where he stands from his customized country-rap theme song.
But in a separate section, titled “Record,” he describes in detail how he handled 10 main issues, among them border security, the Second Amendment, family values and health care. He’s actually much more forthcoming about his record than candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio.
Perry also has a news corner (much like competitor Rand Paul) that picks out content from the Internet about him and — in the style of the modern-day blog — repackages it. A Washington Post piece titled “The governors’ case on foreign policy” becomes “Perry Has Demonstrated Mastery of Foreign Policy in Speeches, Op-Eds, Videos and Interviews.” I’m sure the Post is thrilled about the new headline.
Perry dedicates a whole portion of his website’s homepage to a nicely designed Twitter module that pulls in every tweet he posts. In those tweets, he also links to his impressively active Instagram feed. Yesterday he tweeted his official Snapchat QR code.
Rather than place a volunteer in charge of his Twitter account and spew out continuous promotion of his campaign, it seems that Perry is personally engaging with followers on social media. This morning he wrote, “Woke up this morning feeling optimistic about the future of the country & the role our family can play moving forward.” No links to his website, just some musings from our boy Rick. That weirdo candidness continues on his Instagram, where he can be seen shoving a Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bar in front of the camera and playing the piano.
Not to say this is a particularly good strategy — he should probably hire some professionals to manage his social media presence — but it feels real, at the very least.
Five out of five shroomy stars. You might not remember all the government agencies you’d eliminate, Perry — but hot damn, you give good website.
Read the entire RevURL series here.