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Meet the viral video star behind some of Alabama’s most effective political ads

Ryan Houck (Photo: YouTube)
Ryan Houck (Photo: YouTube)

In April of 2012, Free Market America, a conservative advocacy organization that promotes free market principles, posted a four-minute, thirty-eight second video on YouTube titled “If I wanted America to fail.” In a world of Vines, listicles and snapchats, the serious tone and extended length of the video didn’t seem very well suited for viral success. But 2.7 million views later, it has become something of a blueprint for how to successfully cut through the clutter and deliver a message that resonates with a wide audience online.

The viral video’s protagonist, a young Florida-based media consultant named Ryan Houck, has since then been celebrated by conservative media icons like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and John Stossel, but remains little known to most conservatives around the country.

But people in Alabama are probably very familiar with Houck’s work, even if they don’t know his name.

In addition to his role as the chairman of Free Market America, Houck also runs a company called Consensus Communications, which has produced some of the most effective political ads of the 2014 cycle here in the Yellowhammer State.

Perhaps most notably, Consensus produced this blistering critique of the Alabama Education Association (AEA), which ran on television stations statewide, as well as online. Playing off of the viral video above, the ad is titled “If I wanted our children to fail,” and hammers the AEA for using their “stranglehold on the public schools” to “make it impossible to pay our best teachers more money” and “equally impossible for our poorest families to escape the schools that are failing them.”

Consensus has also produced ads for numerous Republican candidates in Alabama, including this recent ad for State Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) that uses footage from a recent Yellowhammer News interview to lay out Williams’ résumé as a decorate military officer and budget-cutting legislator.

But Houck’s name may not be unknown for much longer. He just released a new book titled “Will America Fail,” in which he argues that the Millennial Generation will not continue America down its current left-leaning path as many believe, but will actually be the generation that rights the ship.

According to Houck, the book “addresses haunting questions raised in past videos, such as: Is America, like Rome before it, destined to crumble and collapse? Have the values of our Founders become obsolete in the Information Age? Will the 21st Century belong to China or the United States? Is the next generation of Americans—the so-called Millennials—prepared to lead?”

And in true Houck fashion, the book has a viral video trailer to go along with it.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims