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Posters and Election Propaganda

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

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:46PM   |  Add a comment
Romney-Ryan Logo

Today, Mitt Romney added Congressman Paul Ryan to the Republican national ticket, with a new slogan, "America's Comeback Team," and a new logo. The logo does not use the large, stylized "R" in the presidential candidate's name for the VP selection; rather it allows Ryan to "keep" his own "R" (albeit a smaller, simpler one).

The slogan is reminiscent of Democrat Bill Clinton being termed the "Comeback Kid" by the media, after he did well in the 1992 New Hampshire Primary, although the Romney-Ryan slogan is a Reaganesque call for America to return to "greatness" under new leadership.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 7:30PM   |  Add a comment
Tsai Facebook Page Photograph


Piggy banks, posters, billboards, videos, and Facebook groups are all propaganda vehicles in Taiwan, which will hold its presidential and legislative elections on January 14, 2012. 

This week, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen decried her party's lack of funds, comparing its plight in the campaign to "a piglet fighting against a huge monster." That "monster" is the ruling Kuomintang Party (KMT), which toppled the DDP from power in the 2008 elections. Next to Tsai, while she spoke, was a giant piggy bank, and supporters threw money on the stage on which she was giving her speech.  

The DPP is selling plastic piggy banks to raise funds, and purchasers stuff money into them and send them back to party headquarters. In addition, a "piggy assembly" is scheduled to be held in December, at which more "stuffed piggies" will be returned. The goal is to sell and collect at least 10,000 piggy banks, according to an article posted on the Asia One News Web site. Another article—in the Taipei Times—stated that the party wanted to distribute 100,000!

President Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT is running for re-election. Also in the race is James Soong of the People First Party (PFP), who may draw votes away from the KMT candidate, giving the presidency to the DPP. A recent poll indicated that the race would be close, with Ma holding a 3.7-point lead over Tsai.

The posters and billboards for these candidates—and those running for seats in the legislature—are sometimes big and brash, using some interesting visual- and verbal-exaggeration techniques. These include puns, loud color, startling facial expressions, and unusual props and poses—such as a stethoscope, a bicycle, and a ping pong paddle, as well as a runner about to begin his race. But a 3 minute and 20 second video-ad for Tsai has gentle music and shows her happily riding a bicycle. For a good selection of posters and billboards already up in this year's campaign, see Michael Turton's blog, The View from Taiwan.

For more on the history of election campaigns in Taiwan and the posters, billboards, and other media used, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History

 

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 3:15PM   |  Add a comment
Roosevelt and Johnson Poster (1912)

Next year's election campaign in the United States promises to be a wild one, with an incumbent president fighting increasingly longer odds on his reelection, given the terrible state of the economy. The campaign promises to be one in which both issues and personalities are prominent.

One hundred years earlier, another incumbent U.S. president, William Howard Taft, fought to retain power. And although issues (conservation, tariffs, rights of workers, and governmental reform) were important, the dynamic personality of former president Theodore Roosevelt loomed large (compared to the dull Taft). Taft's campaign was crippled by a split in his Republican Party, with Roosevelt leading the progressive wing of the party (and running under the banner of the Progressive or "Bull Moose" Party) against the conservatives, who supported Taft for the nomination. Robert La Follette, who had defeated Taft in two of the first four primaries, did not support either Taft or Roosevelt. Woodrow Wilson led a united Democratic Party to victory. Although Roosevelt’s popular and electoral vote totals surpassed those of Taft, Wilson’s margin over the former president in the popular vote was a substantial 14.5 percent.

In 1912, political campaigns did not use any of the media that emerged later in the twentieth century. Political campaigning did not change fundamentally until the medium of radio altered strategies in the mid-1920s, although campaign speeches had surpassed parades and rallies in importance around the turn of the century. Posters, banners, and billboards, however, continued to be a significant vehicle for political operatives. In 1912, the New Jersey Roosevelt Republican League issued a report on its primary campaign to defeat President Taft for the party’s nomination, stating, “Banners are swung across the streets in every city and town of importance, extolling the candidates. Billboards are plastered with huge posters eulogizing President Taft. Campaign pictures of ‘Teddy’ [Roosevelt] and Taft look out from windows everywhere.” Moreover, many lithographic posters were produced, and these were quite colorful, with backgrounds in bright hues for greater impact.

The election of 1912 was a watershed of sorts for U.S. campaign posters. Gone were the cornucopias and most of the patriotic symbols (such as eagles and flags) that had been used since the 1840s. Instead, Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party seized upon the symbol of the Bull Moose—which prompted the party’s nickname—to symbolize the strength of the candidate and his third-party movement. Its symbol was included on some of the posters, cloth banners, buttons, pennants, handkerchiefs, postcards, and other campaign promotions. Since three candidates were essentially “progressive,” personality qualities and symbols were really more important than issues. Slogans were also an essential ingredient: Roosevelt stumped the country calling for a “New Nationalism”; Wilson delivered campaign speeches for a “New Freedom”; and Taft generally stayed in the White House, with his banners proclaiming “Better be safe than sorry.”

A series of photographic portraits of all the major candidates were issued with neither their names nor the names of their parties—another change for printed election propaganda. Other posters did contain some of this information, but one for the Progressive ticket of Roosevelt and Senator Hiram Johnson of California included only the last names of the two candidates, their full-length photographic portraits, and the final lines of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Ballad of the East and West” (See the figure to the right). Roosevelt’s image had come a long way since the last time he ran: in 1904, stuffed “teddy bears” were distributed, which related Roosevelt to both a huggable toy and “family values”; in 1912, he was associated more with the bull moose, with verses from Kipling fortifying the impression of strength. The Taft campaign used the party’s symbol of the elephant—which had been around for several decades, along with the Democratic donkey—on many campaign items, including a poster that displayed portraits of Taft and his running mate, Vice President James Sherman, on the animal’s blanket. Undoubtedly, with Roosevelt’s breakaway movement so powerful, it was important for the Taft strategists to emphasize party symbolism and loyalty.

For more on the election of 1912, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:30AM   |  Add a comment
George Romney Campaign Bumper Sticker (1968) (4President.org)

Mitt Romney is trying to win the Republican nomination this year—as he did in 2008. He is following in the footsteps of his father, George, who attempted to win the GOP nomination in 1968.

George Romney, like his son, was a governor (of Michigan, rather than Massachusetts, which Mitt governed). George's main opponents for the '68 nomination were Richard Nixon (formerly vice president), Nelson Rockefeller (governor of New York), and Ronald Reagan (governor of California).

In his November 18, 1967 announcement, George said, "I have given my life to the poetry of decisions and work" and stressed the need for leadership and his "concern" about America. Many campaigns have stressed this—before and since. But he went further, talking about "aimlessness and flabbiness" in society, citing "obsolete welfare policies," inflation, and rising crime, drug, and alcoholism rates. He added that "the richest nation in the world is in a fiscal mess." His slogan: "For a Better America!" (for the entire announcement speech, see 4president.org)

Now that sounds familiar! His son, Mitt, now says: "The mission to restore America begins with getting our fiscal house in order. President Obama has put our nation on an unsustainable course. Spending is out of control. Yearly deficits are massive. And unless we curb Washington’s appetite for spending, the national debt will grow to the size of our entire economy this year." His slogan: "Believe in America." (see mittromney.com)

Unfortunately for George Romney, his campaign to become the Republican nominee, and then president, was destroyed by his admission to a reporter that he had been "brainwashed" by the military and diplomats into supporting the Vietnam War, which he then turned against, in terms of the U.S. intervening. His support evaporated and he withdrew as a candidate at the end of February, 1968. Subsequently, Nixon easily won both his party's nomination and the presidency later that year.

 

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 8:50AM   |  Add a comment
Currier & Ives Print (1864). Lincoln College.

The 1864 U.S. presidential election campaign—which was held the year after Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg—was an important one. As was the case in 1860, the North was divided. Judging by the dominant themes in campaign broadsides, this time the conflict was about the emancipation of the slaves, the prosecution of the Civil War, and the way to deal with the Confederate states. Abraham Lincoln was up for reelection, but doubted that he could win again, due to high casualties and military defeats. His opponent was the man whom he had removed as the general-in-chief during the war, George McClellan.

Lincoln was the candidate of the National Union Party, formed by pro-Lincoln Republicans and War Democrats, with the very effective slogan, "Don't change horses in the middle of a stream." McClellan positioned himself as a moderate who could end the war, with Lincoln depicted as too "extreme," since the president was for emancipation of the slaves in the South. The Currier & Ives print on the right shows McClellan calling for the preservation of the Union, while grabbing both Lincoln (saying "No peace without Abolition!") and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, with frayed pants (saying "No peace without Separation!").

One huge problem for McClellan, however, was that he had to run against his party's platform, which called for a "cessation of hostilities, with a view of an ultimate convention of the States" to restore the Union. McClellan wanted to continue the war, but Lincoln's campaign focussed on the danger of the Confederate States of America becoming an independent country, if the Democrats won.

Many states allowed Union soldiers to vote, and it was estimated that Lincoln won almost 80% of that segment. Three new states (West Virginia, Nevada, and Kansas) voted for the first time, and Lincoln won all three. Although McClellan won 45% of the popular vote, he was crushed in the Electoral College, winning only Kentucky, Delaware, and New Jersey. He almost won New York though—losing by less than 7,000 votes—when many immigrants were naturalized before the election and with fraud occurring in New York City. More than 70,000 soldiers from the state cast absentee ballots, which put Lincoln over the top.

McClellan’s cause was somewhat damaged by his party’s platform and his battlefield record, but his defeat has been attributed mainly to the Union capture of Atlanta two months before the election. The importance of the election of 1864 was obvious to Lincoln—he believed that the Democratic Party platform would lead to a McClellan administration negotiating an armistice, followed by the permanent breakup of the United States of America. Instead, Lincoln won reelection on a platform demanding that an amendment to the Constitution to abolish slavery be passed, and that the war would be pursued until the South was defeated and the Union preserved.

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 9:30AM   |  Add a comment
Opening Sequence from "Peace, Little Girl" (1964)

The most famous political TV ad of all time—the so-called "Daisy Spot"—was only run once. But it made quite an impression.

The 1964 presidential election campaign—pitting President Lyndon B. Johnson (or LBJ, as he was commonly called), the Democratic nominee, against Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee—was marked by increased media expenditures for TV spots, and audience attentiveness to them. According to Larry Sabato, ten thousand TV spots were aired in the largest seventy-five media markets during the campaign.

Advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) developed the memorable spot for Johnson, calling it “Peace, Little Girl.” A DDB media specialist, Tony Schwartz, conceived the spot, after doing commercials that included children for Ivory Snow®, Johnson’s® Baby Powder, Polaroid cameras, and other corporate products. Schwartz believed that by combining the right images, words, music, and sound effects, an ad could strike an emotional “responsive chord” in a consumer. The “Daisy Spot” opened with a young girl picking a daisy, and a narrator counting down from “ten.” The girl plucks off the petals as the countdown continues, the camera simultaneously zooming in to an extreme close-up of the girl’s eye. An atomic explosion erupts, and Lyndon Johnson is heard saying, “These are the stakes—to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.”

Although the Republicans tried to counter the tactics manifested in this commercial with their own spots—the theme of which was “we are the party of peace through strength” and which were highly critical of the Democratic administration’s “failures at the ‘wall of shame in Berlin,’ the Bay of Pigs in Cuba and in Vietnam”—Goldwater’s already hawkish image had become so negative for so many people that the deleterious consequences of the Democratic propaganda could not be undone. Even though the “Daisy Spot” ran only once, an estimated fifty million viewers saw it, and after the Republicans protested its airing, many more read and heard about it. While it is likely that, without the efforts of the advertising firm, Johnson would have won the U.S. presidency in 1964, his margin were probably increased substantially by the advertising campaign.  

DDB’s propaganda campaign (which included the "Daisy Spot") did two significant things: (1) it created a convincing image of Goldwater as an “extremist” “product” and (2) it softened the image of Johnson as a “crass wheeler-dealer,” making him seem almost avuncular—virtually a “peace and love” advocate of the 1960s—in comparison to his “bellicose” opponent.  

To see the "Daisy Spot" ad, click on: http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1964/peace-little-girl-daisy

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 4:18PM   |  3 comments
Malachi Cleary as Warren G. Harding on "Boardwalk Empire"

Warren G. Harding, the presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the United States in 1920, is portrayed by actor Malachi Cleary in the HBO television series, "Boardwalk Empire." In fact, the title of the finale of the show's first season, "A Return to Normalcy," was one of Harding's campaign slogans. And a large Harding poster can be seen in the background during the Republican National Convention scene (as David Ettlin—a reader of this blog—points out). Harding, a silver-haired, adulterous, corrupt minor senator from Ohio, secured his party's nomination at the convention, with the help of several party bosses in a "smoke-filled room." On the TV show, Harding's campaign manager, Harry Daugherty is helped by “Nucky” Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi), who calls the candidate an "imbecile" while dealmaking to benefit both Harding and himself. "Nucky" also agrees to hide Harding's mistress, Nan Britton, in New Jersey during the presidential campaign. 

During the 1920 campaign, the Republicans spent an incredible amount of money to elect Harding (who won by the huge margin of 26 percentage points). It was reported in The New York Times that five million posters that included portraits of Harding and his vice-presidential candidate, Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge, were printed, along with fifteen million buttons of Harding alone.

Although Daugherty was quite influential in the campaign, another figure, advertising executive Albert Lasker, loomed large. Lasker coordinated public relations and advertising, and posters and billboards were a fundamental part of the campaign. Lasker’s style of advertising, which often advocated the purchase of one product over another, worked very well in politics, with newspaper and billboard ads promoting politicians rather than products. It was a small leap for him to come up with another slogan for Harding, “Let’s be done with wiggle and wobble” (a reference to a Democratic policy that seemed first to have been isolationist, then interventionist), after concocting such slogans as “Keep that Schoolgirl Complexion” and “A Cow in Every Pantry” for products. Lasker’s slogan was seen on billboards across the country at a cost of four hundred thousand dollars (while the Democrats spent little on this medium)—and that was only 7.5 percent of the Republican National Committee’s total expenditures. The “wiggle and wobble” slogan strategy contrasted Lasker’s candidate with the outgoing president: Harding was depicted as a solid, steady leader with small-town values, who would return the country to “normalcy”; the outgoing Democratic president, Woodrow Wilson, on the other hand, had promised to keep the country out of the Great War, and then had led it into the conflict.

The visual images that were sometimes fashioned for the posters and billboards in the Harding campaing were imposing: a good example is Howard Chandler Christy’s idealized rendition of Harding with the candidate dramatically raising one hand and appearing to hold an American flag with the other. There were only two words accompanying the image: “America First!” (yet another slogan). This was the same slogan that was used in the Wilson poster in the previous election campaign, and, amazingly, the slogan that was included in some Democratic posters in 1920.

To learn much more about the Harding campaign, see the book Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.

 

 

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 6:20PM   |  Add a comment
McKinley Campaign Poster (1896/1900) (Library of Congress Reproduction No. LC-USZC2-201)

In its May auction, Heritage Auction Galleries sold a copy of what it called "Perhaps the Most Sought After of All Color Political Lithography from This 'Golden Era'." The period referred to went from the last decade of the nineteenth century through the first decade of the twentieth, and the poster was issued in 1896 and/or 1900 in support of Republican presidential candidate William McKinley.

Heritage stated: "Here graphic appeal combines with rarity, as there are surely fewer than ten examples of this poster known in the organized hobby, and several of those exhibit condition issues. This example is in superb condition and is assuredly unimprovable."  

The poster sold for almost $18,000.

McKinley, the governor of Ohio, was largely in favor of retaining the gold standard. In addition, he was the author of the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890, which was largely protectionist. His campaign manager, Mark Hanna, a wealthy businessperson who applied the principles of business of that period to political campaigns, raised millions of dollars, outspending the Democrats by anywhere from seven to thirty-two times.

Hanna packaged his candidate, creating the image of him as a leader who had a simple and clear message (encapsulated in the slogan on the poster, "Prosperity at Home, Prestige Abroad"). Overall, the Republican campaign theme in 1896 was that a McKinley administration could pull the country out of a depression and return it to prosperity, which did actually happen by 1900. This theme is illustrated in the poster, with the Republican presidential candidate holding a flag while literally standing on a platform of “sound money” (i.e., paper currency backed by gold), held up by businessmen and laborers. In the background are ships and factories, to symbolize "commerce" and "civilization," respectively. There are also rays of sunshine—used in the political posters of many countries to convey optimism.

Hanna’s tactics with which he associated his candidate and the Republican Party with the icon of the American flag, helped build support twenty years later to declare Flag Day an official national holiday.

To learn more about the McKinley campaigns and their posters, and much more, see the book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 5:20PM   |  Add a comment
Cameron walking through Chadlington, near his Oxfordshire home, with his wife and children (December 27, 2007). Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

It is surprising that televised debates—which began in the United States in 1960—just arrived in the United Kingdom this year! After all, British prime ministers have responded to questions posed by the opposition in parliament for hundreds of years, sometimes with outrageous results.

The recent debates among the leaders of the three main British political parties, according to Sarah Lyall (writing in The New York Times) "were meant to provide a corrective to that, replacing the histrionics with gravity and purpose. But their main effect, it seems, has been not to get people thinking about issues so much as to accelerate a different trend entirely—the move to an American-style obsession with personality politics."

In other words, the emphasis is more on image over issues. Many observers of British political campaigns believe that candidates' appearance, charm, likability, eloquence, seeming sincerity, and even family members have become much more important in the U.K.—even though the country is facing grave economic issues. According to MORI pollster Robert Worcester, "[i]mage makes up about 60 percent of the determinants for the floating voter and 40 percent is about issues." [quoted in Reuters]

In the U.S., it is usually critical for a candidate to present him or herself as being in touch with the common person, and that is increasingly the case in the U.K. as well. As Lyall points out, even though Nick Clegg (the Liberal Democrats' leader) and David Cameron (leader of the Conservative Party) come from "posh" or "privileged backgrounds," they were often presented as "down-to-earth" blokes. For example, Cameron is depicted as a man who rides to work on a bicycle, washes the dishes, and spends time with his wife and children.

Image management in politics has taken place in the U.K. for quite awhile, even if it has picked up in the last few decades. Posters distributed during World War II featured the Winston Churchill with planes and tanks in the background. Television spots in the late 1960s showed Conservative leader Edward Heath in a pub and at a football game to try to “humanize” him. By the early 1990s, under Tony Blair’s leadership, the “Americanization” (i.e., more emphasis on personality and image, simplification of problems to a few emphasized issues, targeting of voters, and negative and/or emotional messages) of Labour Party campaigns had begun in earnest, manifest in the inclusion, on posters, of numerous photographs of Blair, who had a winning personality and was quite photogenic.

The recent debates may have made election campaigns in the U.K. even more of "a charisma contest," as Simon Schama wrote in The New Yorker, with the image of Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Labour suffering, since he "still managed to exude a gloomy fatalism," while Cameron was "eager to berate bankers for their wicked bonuses," and Clegg was "fresh of face and forthright and fluent in his opinions, look[ing] straight into the camera."


Posted by Steven Seidman at 3:15PM   |  Add a comment
Law and Justice Logo (Poland)

The first round of Poland's presidential election will take place on June 20. If no candidate garners more than 50% of the vote, a second round will be needed, which will occur on July 4.

Acting Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski, who called the election, is also a candidate for president, representing the ruling centrist Civic Platform party (PO). Komorowski became president after President Lech Kaczyński of the rightist Law and Justice party (PiS), his wife, and many Polish officials died in a plane crash in Russia earlier this month.

Opinion polls have Komorowski in the lead for president, whose duties are mainly ceremonial, but who can veto legislation (although a veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in the parliament) and participate in foreign-policy discussions. In one poll, Komorowski is at 55 percent and Jaroslaw Kaczyński (Lech's twin brother) is at 32%, although the latter figure has not announced that he will be a candidate. Other parties, such as the agrarian Polish People's Party (PSL), are also putting up candidates.

The logo of Law and Justice features a stylized white eagle with a crown, which associates the party with the same symbols on the national coat of arms.

The first posters for the upcoming election have not appeared yet, but they will. All parties produce many posters, as well as banners, TV spots, radio programs, bumper stickers, buttons, leaflets, and newspapers, for the country's political campaigns. Such campaigns have taken place for a long time in Poland. Beginning in 1573, the gentry (even those who were impoverished) elected the king after much debate, wining, and dining. Members of the parliament also were elected.

To read more about Polish politics and posters, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.  

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 4:25PM   |  Add a comment
British National Party Billboard (2009) (http://bnp.org.uk)

Mark Jones, on a Reuters blog that focuses on Britain, speculates that social media could mean the death of election posters and billboards.

The use of new social media technologies was expanded by the Obama campaign in the U.S. in 2008. Many marketing people thought that these would be more effective than older media—even TV—in influencing voters, particularly younger ones. The Obama campaign had desktop wallpaper, blogs, posters and signs, logos, flyers, badges, widgets, IM buddy icons, and mobile ring tones available on its Web site, and people who signed up could receive campaign updates and notices about events on their cell phones (accompanied by an image of the candidate and his logo) or they could find them on Twitter. In addition, one of the first iPhone applications was developed for the Obama campaign, with which users could obtain news about the candidate, video spots, and photos. Additionally, the Obama Web site sold lots of posters via its online store, and there were dozens of Web sites that put up poster designs.

But social media were important. Chris Hughes (a founder of Facebook) developed the Obama Web site as a social network, and there were also Facebook and MySpace groups. Almost 60 percent of under-30 registered voters visited candidate Web sites, social-networking sites, or blogs in 2008, according to the Pew Research Center, and this age group was much more likely to turn out for Obama.

Political posters and billboards get a lot of media attention in Britain, but even there they may be used less in the future. However, nowadays, poster designs are often meant to be downloaded from Web sites, and electronic billboards are becoming more commonplace. In the past year in the U.S., for example, Coca-Cola put up ads on these digital outdoor displays in 27 markets, according to Natalie Zmuda in Advertising Age.

In close elections, posters have made a difference. Some interesting research, conducted before the 1996 parliamentary elections in Great Britain, suggested that poster campaigns persuaded swing voters, in particular, to change their political preferences. Researchers found that a Conservative Party's “New Labour, New Danger” poster, showing two red eyes peering out from behind a red curtain, was effective with focus-group members, 25–34 years old of age, who lacked strong party allegiances.

Overall, posters and billboards may have had some influence, according to researchers. Voters surveyed in the United Kingdom during the 2001 election campaign indicated that billboard advertisements had affected one in ten persons—2 percent reported that the ads had a “great deal” of influence on them and 8 percent indicated a “fair amount.” In comparison, the percentages for televised broadcasts were 6 percent and 16 percent for the same response categories. In addition, the survey data from 1992 to 2000 in Japan revealed generally similar findings about the influence of election posters in that country: when participants were asked if the medium assisted their voting decisions, the percentages ranged from 5 to 9 percent for posters (about the same as for newspaper advertisements)

Of course, these percentages could be lower in the years to come.

For more on the use of posters in British election campaigns and on the effects of posters on voting behavior, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 3:00PM   |  Add a comment
Mumsnet Logo

The influential parenting Web site in Britain, Mumsnet.com, is being used by the political parties to get across their messages to "mommy bloggers." The May election in the U.K. is now being called the "Mumsnet Election," according to Emma Hall in AdAge.com. In fact, the Web site has a section with exactly that title, with links to an article, a survey, a discussion board, leader biographies, and Web chats.

Just as "soccer moms" were a key targeted group for Bill Clinton's 1996 U.S. campaign, middle-class, college-educated mothers are being targeted in this year's British campaign, as Rachel Sylvester points out in the TImes. According to Sylvester, "Labour is planning manifesto pledges to increase paternity leave, allow greater flexibility at work and give more help to those caring for elderly parents. The Tories are also preparing to pitch to the Mumsnet vote with an increase in parental leave...."

Both the Conservative and Labour Parties have developed ads for the Web site and their leaders have participated in online chat sessions with some of the site's users. One Labour ad says, "Are you earning more than 42,000 pounds? Say hello to David [Cameron, the Conservative Party's leader]. And goodbye to your child tax credits. Vote Tory and you'll get less than you bargained for." The Conservative Party's ad exclaims, however, that the party favors child tax credits for people who earn under 78,000 pounds.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:50AM   |  1 comment
“Hon. Abraham Lincoln” (Currier & Ives, 1860) (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-USZC62-2594)

This Friday is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Lincoln, who was born 201 years ago in Kentucky, was ranked recently as the greatest U.S. president (albeit in a poll conducted by the Times of London).

In 1860, with the nation divided, the Republican Party promoted its candidate, Lincoln, as a common man of integrity and worth—the rail-splitting frontiersman. A poster for the ticket of Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin that year, titled “The Union Must and Shall be Preserved,” included a rail fence and it took care to show laborers on either side of a shield that declared “Protection to American Industry,” as well as the customary eagle, cornucopias, and flags. The motto “Free Speech, Free Homes, Free Territory” referred to the party’s platform positions on the elimination of slavery in federal territories, support of the Homestead Act, and freedom to voice anti-slavery views. The overriding issue was slavery expansion, which had finally reached the crisis stage, after decades of agitation by abolitionists and pro-slavery expansionists.

The parades, rallies, campaign newspapers and songs, and free food and drink that had been used in the past continued to be employed by all parties, of which there were four: (1) the Republicans, headed by Lincoln; (2) the regular Democrats, whose presidential nominee was Stephen Douglas; (3) the National Democrats, headed by John Breckenridge, who supported the federal government’s protection of slavery in the territories; and (4) the Constitutional Union Party, which nominated Bell and, as its paper banner proclaimed, was in favor of “The Union, the Constitution and the Enforcement of the Laws.” Placards and posters, as well as refreshments (such as barbecued meats, crackers, and bread), were essential ingredients at the rallies—attended by as many as 30,000 people.

Lincoln’s supporters published two weekly newspapers, both called the Rail Splitter, which not only propagated his stands on issues, but also raised funds. Numerous portrait prints of the candidates were produced for rallies and parades, or simply distributed to potential voters—a practice that had occurred for some time. Many copies of Mathew Brady’s photographs of Lincoln were distributed, as were lithographic portrait posters of Lincoln, Bell, and Douglas. Lithographic portraits of Lincoln by Currier & Ives, idealized from Brady photographs, were sold for twenty cents each. Some of the lithographic prints were hand-colored: a portrait of Lincoln, for example, used during his first presidential campaign, had only red added to his lips and the background curtains.

In 1860, the Republicans’ presidential ticket was not even on the ballot in ten states in the South, but Lincoln won the election overwhelmingly in the North and West, with a popular vote north of the 41st parallel greater than 60 percent (for an easy electoral victory), and garnered about 40 percent overall. Despite Lincoln’s attempts to reassure the South, his election led to its secession and the bitter Civil War that ensued.

For more on the momentous 1860 campaign—as well as an account of the 1864 campaign to re-elect Lincoln—and the printed propaganda used, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 11:15AM   |  Add a comment
COPE Election Poster, South Africa (2009) (http://www.10and5.com)


Between 10 and 5
is a blog that showcases South African graphic design work from agencies, freelancers, illustrators, and artists.

 

Check out the political posters, and their slogans ("hope" and "change" were prominent), displayed recently by clicking here.

 

 

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 1:10PM   |  Add a comment
Obama (USA, 2008) & Netanyahu (Israel, 2009) Web sites (http://patriotmissive.com)

Political Web sites all over the world have copied Barack Obama's very successful site—in their designs, color schemes, features, and more! Regardless of their position on the political spectrum, parties and candidates have found that Obama-like sites are effective ones.

Shane D'Aprile, in an article for Politics magazine (April 2009, pp. 26-32; 34; 36-37), mentions some examples of such sites:

  • Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel): Obamaesque red buttons on a blue background; "Likud-TV" instead of "Obama TV"; and social-networking ("Netanyahu Everywhere" rather than "Obama Everywhere"). (http://en.netanyahu.org.il/)
  • Fianna Fáil (Ireland): Lots of green, but also Obama-type interactive buttons for volunteers, with the site designed by Blue State Digital (which also designed the Obama site). (http://www.fiannafail.ie/content/index/)
  • Democratic Alliance (South Africa): A logo that has a sun and stripes on a home page with a slogan "change"; buttons to donate, volunteer, etc. (http://www.da.org.za/)
  • Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (El Salvador): More stripes and buttons to donate and view videos. (http://www.fmln.org.sv/)

Other groups—in India, Great Britain, and Germany—also have borrowed Web ideas from the Obama campaign. According to Ron Dermer, an adviser to Netanyahu, "imitation is the greatest form of flattery. We're all in the same business, so we took a close look at a guy who has been successful and tried to learn from him." (quoted in http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/world/middleeast/15bibi.html)

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:38PM   |  Add a comment
National Equal Rights Party, Belva Lockwood (1884) [Wilson article]

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for the presidency of the United States. A one-time actress, spiritualist, prostitute, and free-love advocate, she was a member of the Marxist International Workingmen's Association. She was also 76-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt's lover, and (with his advice) did quite well in investing. She and her sister soon became the first women to establish a banking and brokerage company on Wall Street. By 1870, the two sisters had the means to publish Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, which covered such topics as women's suffrage and labor-management issues.

Also in 1870, Woodhull announced her intention to run for president—even though women did not have the right to vote (and would not gain it until 1920). In early 1871, she testified before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of women suffrage. Her speech impressed several leaders of the suffrage movement, including Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Woodhull soon rose to a leadership position.

In January 1872, the National Women Suffrage Association nominated Woodhull to run for president. Her campaign platform supported a woman's right to vote, free love, nationalization of land, fair wages, and much more. Woodhull ran under the banner of the new Equal Rights Party, but her name was not printed on ballots and write-in votes for her were not counted, as Ulysses S. Grant won a second term.

The next women to run for president was Belva Lockwood in 1884. A lawyer, as well as a leader in the women's suffrage movement, Lockwood also ran as a candidate of the Equal Rights Party. Her platform not only called for women to be given the right to vote, but also advocated for civil service reform, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants,  protection of public lands, and temperance. She ran an energetic campaign, but the mainstream candidates—Grover Cleveland and James Blaine—refused to debate her. Lockwood garnered 4,149 votes (in the six states that allowed her name on ballots), as Cleveland won. Anthony and Stanton supported Blaine. Lockwood also ran four years later, with her vote total unknown.

After the results were announced in 1884, Lockwood declared that most men hang on to "old ideas, developed in the days of chivalry," but that "equality of rights and privileges is but simple justice."

The campaign itself witnessed much Lockwood paraphernalia, including stickpins, mechanical paper cards, ribbons, tickets, tobacco cards, and magazine cartoons.

Sources: Women in History: Victoria Woodhull—  http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/wood-vic.htm; Ballot Access News: http://www.ballotaccess.org/2007/01/22/women-running-for-president-in-the-general-election/; Jill Norgren, Belva Lockwood Blazing the Trail for Women in Law: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/spring/belva-lockwood-1.html; Jack Wilson (2008, Summer/Fall/Winter), "Belva Lockwood for President," The Keynoter.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:05AM   |  Add a comment
Social Democratic Radical Party (Chile), Logo

Elections are scheduled this year in five countries in Latin America, namely Chile, Panama, Uruguay, El Salvador, and Honduras. World Audit rates the first three countries as "fully democratic," and the other two as "qualified democracies," meaning that there are some flaws.

In much of Latin America, “street poster art” is an influential political medium, and during election campaigns, posters are omnipresent. This is true even as the influences of television and the Internet have become greater. The standard practice is to maximize the impact of a poster’s message by pasting many copies of the same poster in rows or columns. This repetition attracts attention. During the 2005 Chilean presidential election,  “one [could not] seem to leave the house without being subject to posters lined up on every street,” according to one report. That posters are essential in Latin America is not surprising, considering a recent survey found that almost 80 percent of the region’s campaign managers believed the image of a candidate was the most important factor in a political campaign. Furthermore, 24 percent of these political professionals indicated that street posters were of “exceptional importance” in campaign advertising strategy, a percentage almost as high as for daily newspapers (29 percent) and private television (30 percent).

In 1970, Chile witnessed a momentous election campaign, which culminated in the election of Salvador Allende Gossens, a Socialist, as president. Supporters of Allende were excited and hopeful for change, with other voters fearful of what would happen in the country if he won. Some in Allende’s Socialist Party called for seizing power, if he was not elected. Three years later, Allende was found dead, after a military takeover, the presidential palace bombed beyond repair, and General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was declared the dictatorial leader. It was apparent that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States, under President Richard Nixon, had worked to prevent Allende’s election, and—after he had won—helped to destabilize the regime. The details are supplied in my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History, along with sections on other nations in the region.

Free elections occurred again in Chile only in 1990. In 2005, Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria, the candidate of Allende's Socialist Party (which is part of a coalition, Concert of Parties for Democracy or CPD), was elected president of Chile—the first woman to hold the office—winning a runoff election  with 53.5% of the vote.

At the right is the logo of the Social Democratic Radical Party of Chile (another member of the CPD), with the rose as its symbol—like many Socialist Parties around the world, including those in Brazil, Romania, Switzerland, Spain, Serbia, Ukraine, France, and the British Labour Party.

Also at the right is a poster, which targeted feminists, from the 1970 Allende campaign.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:05PM   |  2 comments
"At The Moment of Truth," Defaced Poster of Livni, with Barak [center] and Netanyahu [right] (2009) [Photo: EPA]

Israel's parliamentary election is this Tuesday, with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party slightly favored to regain power. Since the Israeli incursion into Gaza last month, polls indicate an increase in popularity for the conservatives of Likud, whose main opposition is the ruling Kadima Party, led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is perceived as more moderate than Netanyahu. To the right of Netanyahu and his party is Soviet-born Avigdor Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) Party is also doing well in the polls. It appears as though the hardliners toward the Palestinians may gain power. One consequence is that Netanyahu, if elected, will not stop building settlements in "occupied" territories. [See article in Reuters for more information on the campaign and U.S.-Israeli relations]

However, there has been a late shift back to the Kadima Party in the polls. Right now, according to the latest data, Likud will gain 27 seats and Kadima 25—out of 120 seats in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament). Yisrael Beiteinu will win 14 seats. The Labour Party, led by Ehud Barak (another former prime minister), trails badly. The leader of the party with a plurality will then attempt to put together a coalition government. According to Jason Koutsoukis of Fairfax Digital Network, even if Livni's party wins the most seats, it will be difficult for her to form a coalition, since Lieberman's party has similar stands to those of Likud.

As for the campaign, many Israelis are uncharacteristically lacking in enthusiasm for the candidates and their positions, according to David Blair of Britain's Weekly Telegraph. Of course, campaign posters continue to be seen on the streets, but fewer rallies have been held.

One group—suspected to be Orthodox extremists—defaced posters of Livni in Jerusalem. It probably had less to do with her centrist positions, and more to do with opposition to images of women being seen in public, wrote Shelly Paz of The Jerusalem Post.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 12:10PM   |  Add a comment
Reuters, Election Posters in Baghdad, 2009

Iraqi politicians have embraced American political methods, as evidenced by their behavior in the campaign leading up to the provincial elections on January 31, according to the Washington Post (click on the link for the full article).

Candidates for Baghdad's provincial council emulated John McCain at a three-hour town hall meeting, fielding questions from all quarters. With the violence diminished, politicians are now getting out in public. Some examples of questions from Iraqi citizens and journalists:

  • "Should the militarizing of Iraq continue?"
  • "How are you going to deal with run-down buildings?" 
  • "How much have you spent on your campaigns?"

There is no shortage of candidates vying for the 440 seats on provincial councils in 14 of the 18 provinces—14,431 (almost 30% female), to be exact, with over 400 blocs participating!

Posters are everywhere, and newspaper ads and glossy brochures are numerous. The evidence of the Americanization of Iraq's politics is also heard on the radio and television, with jingles and spots playing repeatedly, and candidate images and slogans on T-shirts (similar to those for Barack Obama a few months ago). A photograph of Sabir al-Isawi (the head of the Baghdad provincial council) for example, was printed on a campaign poster; he is depicted looking upward (like Obama in several U.S. posters), with an image of a child drinking polluted water from a broken pipe behind him.

Many women are running for office, but some have criticized them for illustrating their posters and other printed material with photographs of themselves. "We don't have a problem with women who want to be elected," Jaber Hussein Alwani (a tribal leader in Fallujah) said. "But they don't have to publicize their photo. It's unacceptable. They can just publish their names," he stated.

Some Iraqis complain about their politicians and political marketing—just like citizens in other countries. One stated: "When they put up posters, they each make themselves out to look like the best. When they're in office, they do nothing." Another declared: "I will not vote for anyone. I don't trust any of them. They're all thieves."


Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:10PM   |  Add a comment
Obama Campaign Web Ad, 2008


As far as I can tell, the Obama campaign was the first ever to sell t-shirts with the candidate's portrait on it. And there were a lot of different designs that featured his image, often sold independently.


Presidential campaign t-shirts have been around since 1960, when John F. Kennedy's image as a war hero was promoted by a t-shirt design with a PT-boat on it to celebrate the Democratic candidate's valor during World War II, when a Japanese destroyer sank his vessel. But Kennedy's portrait was not displayed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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