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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 “slogans”

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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 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 10:45AM   |  Add a comment
Sarkozy Poster, "La France Forte" (2012)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign has just issued its first poster, now that he has announced his candidacy for re-election. It shows the Aegean Sea in the background with what appears to be a sunrise. The background photo used, as Stella Tsolakidou notes in the Greek Europe Reporter, "has caused bitter comments from his opponents, who have criticized him both for using a Greek landscape instead of a French one and for the way he treated the Greek debt situation."  

The poster's slogan, “La France Forte” (A strong France), is reminiscent of past slogans in the country's election campaigns, particularly "Il faut une France forte" (We need a strong France; Giscard d’Estaing, 1981).

The photo used by Sarkozy's campaign conveys tranquility, with the sunrise (or sunset?) adding to the feeling of peacefulness, a visualization of another 1981 slogan—for François Mitterrand—"la force tranquille" (conveying calm and steady strength).

Of course, a number of parodies of the Sarkozy poster were soon issued, including "La Trance Forte" (A Strong Trance) and “La France Morte” (A Dead France). Here are three links for some Photoshopped parodies: Humores y amores, laseptiemewilaya, and leParisien.fr

French voters go to the polls on April 22, with a probable runoff scheduled for May 6.

For more on French election campaigns and its poster propaganda, 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 4:51AM
Obama Wallpaper, 2008 (www.barackobama.com)

Obama Slogans:


"Yes We Can"
—Possibly derived from the United Farm Workers' slogan of 1972. The union's leader, Cesar Chavez, stated "Sí, se puede" ("Yes, it can be done"). Two years later, Philadelphia Phillies' second baseman Dave Cash came up with the "Yes We Can" slogan in support of his team, fighting for the pennant. Later, it appeared on the British children's TV show Bob the Builder, whose viewers heard the question "Can we fix it?" and the response "Yes we can!" Nevertheless, it is a very effective political slogan: positive and inclusive.

"Change We Can Believe In"
—This slogan reinforces Obama's call to withdraw combat troops from Iraq, at first perhaps to differentiate his position from that of his Democratic primary opponents, particularly Hillary Clinton. Now it competes with McCain's call for "change."

McCain Slogans:


"Reform, Prosperity, Peace"
—Very similar to others in political history, including Wilson's “Peace With Honor” (U.S., 1916); the Bolsheviks' "Peace, Bread, and Land" (Russia, 1917); Cox's “Peace, Progress, Prosperity” (U.S., 1920); Willkie's “For Peace, Preparedness and Prosperity” (U.S., 1940); Truman’s “Secure the Peace” (U.S., 1948); Eisenhower's "Peace and Prosperity" (U.S., 1956); Koizumi's “Kaikaku” ["Reform"] (Japan, 2001). It attempts to communicate quite a lot: that McCain is for "change," "economic growth," and wants to get out of Iraq, but with "honor" (He could use Wilson's slogan, too). 

"A Cause Greater Than Self" a call to service for the country. This is a natural slogan for McCain, who has been in the U.S. Navy and Congress most of his adult life. In his memoir, McCain wrote, "Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone."

"Country First"—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; partially a veiled effort to cast suspicion on Obama's patriotism.

"A Leader You Can Believe In"—McCain's campaign took the Obama slogan, changed it to emphasize a perceived strength for McCain, and made it, at the same time, into a negative attack on Obama.


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