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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 “campaigns”

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 8:10AM   |  Add a comment
Jeff Rogers, "Rebuilding America," 2012


Nowadays, Illustrator, Photoshop, and other software programs make producing a poster relatively simple. Good design, of course, is still important. And some fairly good designs for two presidential candidates have emerged—the result of two poster contests conducted by the Barack Obama (Democrat) and Gary Johnson (Libertarian) campaigns this year.

The dozen finalists in the Obama-sponsored Art Works Poster Design Contest can be seen here, with the three winners' designs available for purchase. The designs range from mainly text to symbolic patriotism. I particularly like the design by Jeff Rogers, which uses red beams for the stripes in the American flag (which can be seen to the right).

The ten winners of The Gary Johnson 2012 Poster Contest can be viewed here, with seven featuring the candidate (one of these is shown to the right) and two dominated by symbolism (a victory hand gesture and the Statue of Liberty).

 

 


Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:30PM   |  Add a comment
Obama Campaign 2012 Slogan (BarackObama.com)

I've already blogged extensively about political campaign slogans, which began in 1840 in the U.S. to support the Whig ticket of William Henry Harrison (“The Hero of Tippecanoe”—during the War of 1812) and John Tyler: "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too." Other good slogans followed, both at home and abroad. In the U.S., there have been some clever ones, including the Republican Party's "We Polked you in 1844; we shall Pierce you in 1852," "Lincoln's "Vote Yourself a Farm" (1860) and "Don't swap horses in midstream" (1864), Harding's "Let’s be done with wiggle and wobble" (1920), and Coolidge's "Keep Cool With Coolidge" (1924) [for some more, see this BuzzFeed Politics blog post]; and in other countries, there were the African National Congress's "A Better Life for All" (South Africa, 1994) and the National Action Party's "Enough Already!" (Mexico, 2000).

In the 2008 U.S. presidential contest, Republican John McCain's campaign was characterized by several slogans—one of which was "Country First," which was partially a tactic to distance McCain from President Bush and the Republican Party; partially an attempt to stress McCain's heroism during the Vietnam War; and partially a veiled effort to cast suspicion on Obama's patriotism (as I stated then). Democrat Barack Obama's main slogan, "Yes We Can," was probably more effective, as was his "Change we can believe in"—both being so positive and inclusive.

Back in February of this year, Jeff Mason speculated about the President's new slogan, saying that the Obama campaign was "roadtesting" several, including "Winning The Future" and "Greater Together."

Clearly, there still are economic problems that need to be addressed, and the new slogan would have to connote "resolve" and "leadership." Does "Forward" (which debuted in a seven-minute-plus video to promote President Obama's re-election) do that? Perhaps so, but probably no one slogan would be perfect. Here's what Obama said a few months ago: "Inspiration is wonderful, nice speeches are wonderful, pretty posters, that's great. But what's required at the end of the day to create the kind of country we want is stick-to-it-ness. It's determination. It's saying, 'We don't quit.'"

What about the past buzz words, "hope" and "change"? On those, David Axelroad, the president's key campaign adviser, stated: "This election is also about hope and about change. That doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be in the slogan."

How about Mitt Romney's slogan, "Believe in America"? To me, it appears that his campaign strategists are trying to emulate Ronald Reagan and his 1984 "Morning in America" campaign.



Posted by Steven Seidman at 9:44AM   |  Add a comment
"Windsurfing" (Bush-Cheney '04)


In 2004, the George W. Bush campaign produced one of the most devastating attack ads ever run. The "Windsurfing" ad was a 30-second spot that depicted Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as a "flip-flopping, windsurfing elitist," who changed his positions to try to increase his support from voters. Kerry was shown windsurfing to the left and right, to symbolize his supposedly changing stances on the war in Iraq, and funding for troops, educational reform, and medicare premiums. These and other ads might have made the difference in President Bush's narrow margin of victory, which was 3 percent in the popular vote and 6 percent in the Electoral College. Click on this link to view the "Windsurfing" ad:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbdzMLk9wHQ

Now, in 2011, the Democratic National Committee has already run a similar 30-second spot ad, directed against a candidate who has not even been nominated yet (and may not be): Republican Mitt Romney. The "Trapped" ad pits "Mitt vs. Mitt" on abortion and health reform, stating that Romney (like Kerry) is "willing to say anything" to get elected. Click on this link to view the "Trapped" ad: http://www.youtube.com/user/DemocraticVideo#p/u/0/CUOM9QvhG5I

Such attacks can be effective, since they can get voters to question the "character" of candidates.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 1:15PM   |  Add a comment
Woman walks past election campaign posters of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (BBC Photo; 2004)

Hafiz Noor Shams in a blog post in The Malaysian Insider compares the use of posters during election-campaign periods in Malaysia to their use in the United States and Australia (the latter of which voted on Saturday).

Shams wonders why there are so few posters in Australia, while "election time is always carnival-like in Malaysia. It is noisy and it is colourful. Loud speeches will blare into the night. More strikingly is the poster war. Colours representing major political parties will decorate the streets."

Why are the streets in Australia, the United States, and many other countries comparatively dull during their election periods? The mass media are more significant communication vehicles in these countries, and posters are used less—although they are now displayed on Internet sites (and downloaded) more frequently. In addition, there are no huge roadblocks to minor parties' advertising in the mass media, although they can be limited by a lack of funds.

But the main reason is legal restrictions imposed by the Malaysian government. The ruling coalition has over 90 percent of the seats in Parliament, and controls the mass media. In Malaysia, there are more political parties, and many of them do not have access to the mainstream media, making posters and the Internet more important vehicles to communicate to voters. Just to give you an idea of the number of political parties in Malaysia, eight new parties submitted registration applications in the first five months of this year alone! And opposition parties are not allowed to air their viewpoints on TV and radio, as well as in most newspapers.


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