In 2016, major San Antonio design firm Giles-Parscale became home base for Donald Trump's wildly successful digital campaign. At the helm was Brad Parscale, the firm's co-owner and the Trump campaign's digital director. The seemingly progressive firm played a considerable role with getting the Republican mogul into the White House, ruffling the feathers of many liberal San Antonians. Now, more than a year since Trump's inauguration, Parscale is back in the national spotlight - Trump announced February 27 that he's chosen Parscale to be campaign manager for his 2020 reelection run.
But where does that leave the San Antonio firm that shares his name?
Giles-Parscale is the company responsible for branding most businesses in the Pearl - Hotel Emma, Supper, Local Coffee, Sternewirth, the Can Plant, and the Pearl Brewery itself, all bear the firm's signature flourishes. It's easy to say Giles-Parscale is the hippest design firm in town - but its longtime relationship with the Trump family (which morphed into the Trump presidential campaign) has soured its public image in the past year.
Parscale, a political novice, was handed the keys to the Trump campaign's digital arm in 2016, where he mastered Facebook's algorithms to feed anti-Clinton and pro-Trump rhetoric to millions of users, all run under the Giles-Parscale umbrella.
Parscale and his Giles-Parscale team (dubbed "Project Alamo") built polished Trump Facebook ads, tweeted from Trump's account during debates ("Crooked @HillaryClinton’s foundation is a CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE. Time to #DrainTheSwamp!" sound familiar?), crunched numbers, targeted key audiences, and kept a low profile. By election day, Trump's election team had given the firm more than $93 million to steer the online campaign across the finish line. And it worked — really, really well.
In the words of WIRED's Issie Lapowsky, Parscale's "digital-first approach created an entirely new playbook" for presidential campaigns — making it one of the most successful (and controversial) digital campaigns in history.
Suddenly, the San Antonio firm was known less for its rustic interiors and more for winning Trump's election.
But you wouldn't know from its website. Giles-Parscale's site lists Trump International Realty as a client — but makes no mention of the firm's election-winning campaign work. That may be because Jill Giles, the other half of the company, has made an effort to sever her name from the campaign — emphasizing her sole focus on local businesses.
In August 2017, a company called CloudCreative announced it was buying something called Parscale Creative for $9 million. Giles would be creative director of the commercial-only company, Parscale would be on the board, and it would change its name to Parscale Digital.
There's no record of Parscale Digital or Parscale Creative online, aside from a troll website bearing the URL parscalecreative.com that is, honestly, a damn treat.
This purchase came around the same time that Parscale said he'd be moving the political arm of Giles-Parscale's work to Miami (because, airplanes?) under a new name, but it's still unclear where that move stands.
What we do know is that Giles-Parscale has continued to rake in Trump campaign dollars after he entered the White House.
On July 18, the "Trump Make America Great Again Committee" wrote Giles-Parscale a single check for $15,437, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a bipartisan website that reports campaign finance filings. And last year alone, the other Trump political action committee "Donald J Trump for President" dumped more than than $4 million into the firm's bank account.
During the same period of time, these two PACs and the Republican National Committee also gave a total of $745,000 to a business listed as Parscale Strategy, according to CRR. The site also reports that in the last four months of 2017, a group named "America First Action" committee gave $355,000 to Parscale Strategy, LLC — a seemingly different company.
There is a website for Parscale Strategy, which greets viewers with a giant side profile photo of Parscale's bearded face. The site only exists, it seems, to promote Parscale's past work. It links directly to the Giles-Parscale homepage.
While Giles-Parscale collected campaign bucks, Paarscale himself was being called on by House Intelligence Committee investigators to explain his blurry relationship with a company allegedly involved in Russia's election-meddling. While he's denied any knowledge of the Russia hacks, it's a topic that's already been underscored by critics to Trump's newly announced hire. To fully take on the role of Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Parscale will have to break away from his various business ventures (three? four? we've lost count). But will Giles-Parscale remain Trump's digital campaign shop?
Hop over to Giles-Parscale's careers page, and you'll see a job opening in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a "Political Account Coordinator."
It appears the firm's political arm is still flexing.
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