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Posters and Election Propaganda

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

Tagged as “attack ads”

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 5:05PM   |  1 comment
Hillary Clinton 2008 Campaign, "3 A.M."

Hillary Clinton’s “3 a.m." advertisement (released in March) was named the “Best TV Spot” of the 2008 election, chosen by a large margin in a poll of Campaigns & Elections’ Politics magazine subscribers (many of whom are political professionals). Here are the complete results for the question in the poll:

Which of the following political advertisements would you say was the “Best TV spot” of the 2008 election?   
Hillary Clinton – “3 A.M.”    31%
Barack Obama – “The Moment”    24%
John McCain – “Celebrity”    11%
Mike Huckabee – “Chuck Norris Approved”    9%
Bill Richardson – “Job Interviews”    7%
Mitt Romney – “Experience Matters”    3%
Republican National Committee – “Storm”    3%
Mike Gravel – “Throws a Rock in a Lake”    1%
Other    4%
Don’t Know    6%

Clinton's ad did get a lot of attention, and may have helped her win many primaries after it was released—as well as spawning a multitude of parodies on YouTube. Here is the original ad:



Posted by Steven Seidman at 4:15PM   |  Add a comment
AFL-CIO, "Straight Answers," 2008 (http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com)

The final "surge" is on in the last four days of the election campaign!

Labor unions almost always work to elect Democratic presidential candidates in the U.S., and this year is no exception. The AFL-CIO, for example put together a huge campaign for the final four days—the largest in its political history—with more than 100,000 workers in 21 "battleground" states calling on almost 4 million union households, dialing 5.5 million telephone numbers, and disseminating over 2 million leaflets at workplaces in support of Barack Obama, wrote Jonathan Martin (http://www.politico.com).

This summer, the AFL-CIO sent cards (see the illustration on the right) to 600,000 union members in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with their purpose to counter "myths and rumors about Sen. Obama,"  according to union spokesperson Steve Smith. The questions included the following about Obama (with all of the answers "Yes"):

  • Does he wear a flag pin on his lapel?
  • Is he a Christian?
  • Was he born in America?
  • Does he place his hand over his heart when he says the pledge?
  • Was he sworn in on a bible?

Another printed piece focused on health care and the economy. (see Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic)

 

As for the Republicans, the Politico's Martin reported that John McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee are sending out robocalls and radio spot ads, featuring retiring Senator John Warner, to Virginians in that key battleground state. The messages emphasize defense. In the radio ad aimed at the voters in the Tidewater area (with its gigantic naval base), Warner says: "Barack Obama's liberal colleagues in Congress announced they will cut defense spending by 25%. Fellow Virginians, cuts in the defense budget will weaken Virginia's economy, weaken national defense."

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 1:30PM   |  Add a comment
"One Heartbeat Away," National Nurses Organizing Committee, 2008

According to The Spot (a blog about political ads by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a division of TNS Media Intelligence), special interest groups are girding up to release TV spots in targeted states. These 527 and PAC groups may "prove to be a significant force, largely because they are more willing than candidates to include incendiary information and images in their ads," states the blog.

In the last week, these groups distributed ads that focused on abortion, rape, Obama's association with Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, McCain's bouts with cancer, and more.

Planned Parenthood, the Committee for Truth in Politics, the California Nurses Association, and the Judicial Confirmation Network sponsored ads that ran over 1,000 times during the week—costing almost $375,000.

Here are two of the ads:




Posted by Steven Seidman at 1:06PM   |  1 comment
Frame from Brave New PAC's "A Fellow POW on John McCain," 2008

In early nineteenth-century America, negative advertising and distortion of candidate records were all practiced in politics—in partisan newspapers, broadsides, and posters. Today, this is mainly conducted on the Internet and with TV spot ads.

Vinny Minchillo (Chief Creative Officer, Scott Howell & Company) says that presidential advertising is like auto advertising. Here are the similarities, according to him (in Advertising Age, September 19, 2008):

  • "Both decisions come with a commitment of two, four or six years"
  • "Potential customers are engaged for a short period of time"
  • "People actually do their homework before committing"
  • "People want us to believe they decide based on facts, when it's really an emotional decision"
  • "There's plenty of negative advertising"

The key for shoppers—for presidents and cars—writes Minchillo, is to "make a connection to the brand that is both logical and emotional." There are a number of important questions asked by these shoppers, but perhaps the most important ones are "How will this car make me look?" and "What will my friends say when I reveal my candidate choice?" Minchillo states that Obama—"a stunning orator and tremendous narrator"— is a "Ferrari"; McCain—"with tons of experience and decent qualifications"—is a "Toyota Camry."

Then there is the "comparative advertising" between "products." Although surveys have indicated that many voters dislike negative political ads, researchers have shown that they are often effective. Two of the most successful were the Willie Horton spots in 1988 and those by the Swift Boat Veterans in 2004.

The most malicious video spots are not even shown on television; rather they are posted online. Both TV and online spots have been financed by so-called "527 groups." These groups can raise unlimited funds independent of the authorized groups supporting candidates and parties, but must disclose donors. One 527 group, calling itself the "Brave New PAC" targeted John McCain with a spot attempting to tarnish his "hero" image as a Vietnam POW. Here it is:


An anti-Obama spot, posted by "Our Country PAC," called into question the Democrat's "patriotism." Here it is:


These are just two. You can find many more out there.


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