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Posters and Election Propaganda

A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters

Posted by Steven Seidman at 5:41PM   |  Add a comment
Bachelet and her supporters (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)

Chile's presidential election takes place in about three weeks; U.S. voters go to the polls in about three years. One thing both countries have in common is that two women—both known by their first names (seen on their posters) are favored to become president, at present.

Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet ("Michelle" on some posters) is a Socialist, who heads a seven-party coalition called "New Majority."  She is the daughter of a general tortured and killed by the Pinochet dictatorship. Bachelet was the first woman to hold the office of president in Chile, when she won a runoff election in 2005. She could not run for reelection, since presidents cannot hold office for consecutive terms.

According to Joshua Tucker, writing in The Washington Post, "pre-election polls makes it reasonable to assume that if she does not win in the first round (in which an absolute majority of the vote is required), she will win in the runoff" this time around. In the United States, a recent poll had Hillary Clinton ("Hillary" on most of her posters) as the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016 and to beat any Republican challenger.

To read about Chile's last presidential election, which resulted in the election of Sebastián Piñera, a conservative billionaire, in 2010, click here. For more on Chile's past election campaigns, click here. To learn more about election campaigns and poster propaganda in Chile and other countries in Latin America, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:35AM   |  Add a comment
Christian Democratic Union Logo

The logos of today's political parties in many countries have become bland corporate identity pieces, similar to those of Sony, Panasonic, and RCA.

The German ones are particularly uninspired, with only one (Alliance 90/The Greens) adding a visual to the initials displayed. 

In other countries, visuals accompany the names of the parties. For example, the British Labour Party includes a socialist rose; the U.S. Republican Party incorporates an elephant; and the Workers Party of Ireland shows a handshake.  

The logos of the five German parties are:

  • Christian Democratic Union: a slanted "forward-moving" CDU; red on a white-background
  • Social Democratic Party: SPD; white on a red background
  • Free Democratic Party: FDP; blue on a yellow background, with "Die Liberalen" ("The Liberals") below
  • Alliance 90/The Greens: a yellow sunflower on a green background, with the parties' names in white
  • The Left: black letters on a gray background, with a red triangle above the "i"

Hopefully, the federal legislative elections scheduled for September will be more exciting!


Posted by Steven Seidman at 8:13PM   |  1 comment
Campaign Poster for William McKinley, ca. 1896-1900. (Library of Congress)


Which are the two best posters from U.S. presidential election campaigns (excluding ones for the primaries)?

My criteria: artfulness, effective messaging, and overall design.


Here are my selections:

1. Unknown Artist, Poster of Republican William McKinley, holding a U.S. flag and standing on a gold coin (symbolizing "sound money"), held up by group of men, in front of ships (for "commerce") and factories (for "civilization"), ca. 1896-1900. This beautiful color lithograph targeted both businessmen and laborers, as well as associating the candidate with both symbols of patriotism and fiscal soundness. In the background, the Sun rises, with its rays enhancing the positiveness of the message.

2. Rafael López, "Estamos Unidos" ("We are United"), Poster for Artists for Obama, 2012. This gorgeous poster features a layered oil painting, with the candidate gazing thoughtfully into the distance and shown from below (a common pose, which makes him seem more imposing), and a simple slogan and colors to appeal to Latino voters.


Of course, there are many other worthy designs. See 56 others by clicking here. What are your favorites? And which posters should be added?

 

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:10AM   |  Add a comment
British Conservative Party Poster, 1909/1910

Posters (actually broadsides, initially) have been displayed in Great Britain since the late 1600s. They became indispensable during election periods in Great Britain in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when many more people were enfranchised, especially after the Labour Party was established in 1906.

The BBC has assembled a group of posters, shown to "illustrate David Lloyd George's political fame ad notoriety," put together on the 150th anniversary of George's birth. The posters range from 1910 to 1929—a period when posters were the paramount medium of political propaganda, and when they were often highly imaginative and printed in eye-catching colors from lithographic stones. Click here to see the posters.

George's Liberal Party regained power in 1906. The Liberals "rebranded" their party as one that was more in favor of social reform, and "New Liberals" such as George advocated for legislation to protect and help children, workers, and the unemployed.

George was Prime Minister between 1916 and 1922, which included his leading a coalition government during World War I, followed by his becoming the Leader of the Liberal Party in 1926, a post he held until 1931.

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 7:39AM   |  1 comment
David Garcia, "Change" (2012)


Design for Obama
—a Web site started in 2008 to promote Barack Obama's campaign for the U.S. presidency—is up again. 

The site was created "as a dorm-room experiment to create a space for artists to function as artists in the political process and help elect Barack Obama," according to the creators.

Many of the 2008 posters are included in a book, Design for Obama: Posters for Change: A Grassroots Anthology," written by Steven Heller, and edited by Aaron Perry-Zucker and Spike Lee.

Dozens of high-resolution posters (one of which can be seen to the right) have been contributed, to be printed and displayed at rallies and anywhere that people want to show support for Obama. Gallery shows will follow.


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