About this blog
A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The design team that developed the Obama ’08 campaign logo team started its work at the end of 2006. Led by Sol Sender, the team of designers generated many different logos in two weeks, including the one chosen, which became perhaps the most famous political logo ever: an "O" with a rising sun and red-white-and-blue fields. The Obama logo debuted in February 2007, when the Illinois senator announced his candidacy.
Here's a video piece that features Sender discussing the development of the logo. Also included are designs that were not selected. Of the three finalists, the one selected was by far the best, I feel! What do you think?
Sender now works for VSA Partners, a design agency that creates brand strategies, visual identities, marketing communications, and more.
[Thanks to Cathy Michael for calling my attention to this information.]
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The 2008 U.S. Republican Party Platform supported border security and English as the official national language, and opposed any amnesty for illegal immigrants. These stands—emphasized by most GOP presidential candidates during the primary campaign and continuing into the general election, particularly by state and local candidates, hurt many Republicans who ran: For example, in 2004, an estimated 39 percent of Latinos voted for George W. Bush; in 2008, only 31 percent voted for John McCain. But at least the U.S. does not have a party whose main purpose is to oppose immigration and immigrants. In other parts of the world, such parties abound.
In France, the increase in the number of immigrants and Arabs with French citizenship helped resurrect Jean-Marie Le Pen’s party, the Front National (FN), which had received little support since Le Pen helped found it in 1972. By 1988, however, Le Pen garnered 14 percent of the vote in the presidential election. The message of protecting white French citizens against the waves of immigrants was summed up on a Le Pen poster with the slogan “Defend our colors.” In 1995, he achieved 15 percent, with a blatant anti-immigrant campaign, marked by an FN poster that stated, “Three million unemployed, that is three million immigrants too many!” Another FN poster included a silhouette of an airplane in front of the setting sun, with the slogan “When we come in … They go out!” And in 2002, Le Pen (with his slogan of “France and the French First”) received almost 17 percent, getting him into a runoff against Jacques Chirac (who defeated him soundly 82 percent to 18 percent). But in the latest French presidential election, last year, Le Pen's share of the vote was down to 10 percent.
Unfortunately, anti-immigrant appeals have been evident in other countries, too. A poster distributed by the Danish People’s Party during the 2001 election showed a young blond girl with the statement, “When she retires, Denmark will be a majority-Muslim nation.” In the same campaign, Venstre (the Liberal Party) erected a billboard that showed three Asian men, who had been tried for group rape, leaving the court after having been acquitted, with the caption “this will not be tolerated once Venstre gets in.” In that election, Venstre won the most seats in the parliament (a gain of 34 percent) and the People’s Party came in third in seats (a 70-percent increase). The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) achieved even more than its Danish counterpart, winning the most votes in the parliamentary elections of 1999, 2003, and 2007, possibly helped by posters that depicted foreigners as criminals shredding the nation’s flag. In the last elections, the SVP achieved its best result (29 percent), despite (or because of) issuing a subsequently banned poster that depicted three white cartoon sheep kicking a black one off the Swiss flag, as well as the slogan “Creating security” (see the illustration to the right). Anti-immigrant poster campaigns by political parties have also been conducted recently in other European countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, and The Netherlands, as well as in New Zealand.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The presidential campaign in Ghana just ended, with the voting on Sunday resulting in a virtual tie between the two candidates. According to Reuters, Nana Akufo-Addo (a former minister of foreign affairs) of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is slightly ahead in the count with about 49 percent of the vote so far, but almost 4 of 10 constituencies have not been tallied as yet. John Atta Mills (who has run for president, and lost, twice previously) of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has garnered almost 48 percent. If neither candidate's total hits 50 percent, there will be a run-off on December 28. Both men are moderates, and favor investment in healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
Ghana is a stable democracy of more than 20 million people—rated #35 in the world, by World Audit (one of only two "fully democratic" countries in Africa, the other being Mauritius). Ghana has a fairly healthy economy, which grew almost 7 percent in 2007. It is a major producer of cocoa and gold, and is developing offshore oil discoveries. Poverty still exists, however, and literacy (in 2000) was under 60 percent.
The campaign had the usual "mud slinging," but "there was a carnival atmosphere and friendly exchanges among rival supporters," said Will Ross, a BBC correspondent. Posters, billboards, and t-shirts for Akufo-Addo called him “The Best Man for Ghana.” Those for Mills termed him a man “you can trust” and “a better man for Ghana”.
Here is a music video, performed by Daddy Lumba, for Nana:
Friday, December 5, 2008
Finland—according to World Audit—is ranked #1 of the world's countries for "democracy" (after a review of figures on public corruption, human and political rights, free speech, and the rule of law in every country of at least one million people).
The nation conducts presidential elections every six years, selects a parliament every four years, has European Parliament elections every five years, and municipal elections every four years.
There are 13 registered political parties, and 7 other ones that were removed after the 2007 parliamentary elections for failing to win a seat in two consecutive votes. Although the three main parties (Centre, National Coalition, and Social Democratic) gained 2/3 of the seats in the parliament in 2007, the support for them was about the same (23%, 22%, and 21%, respectively), and a coalition government was formed, with the first two parties joining with the Green League and Swedish People's Party (representing the Swedish speakers in Finland).
In Finland, where legal restrictions are placed on political advertising on television and radio, posters are widely used. Many candidates also have their own Web pages. Nowadays, the posters often show portraits of the candidates, but issues and logos are also represented. For a good sampling of election posters throughout history from the Finnish Social Democratic Party, click on this link.
At the right are two Finnish campaign posters:
- Swedish People's Party (1960)—advocating for the rights of Swedish speakers (top)
- Urho Kekkonen for president (1956)—promoting the politician who held office from 1956 until 1982. He was elected the first time by two votes in the electoral college, which was done away with after he left office (bottom)