Posters and Election Propaganda About this blog

Posters and Election Propaganda

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

Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:36AM   |  Add a comment
Poster, The Liberal Democrats, United Kingdom, 2017

British election propaganda campaigns—on billboards and posters—have increasingly emphasized party leaders, rather than issues. Some have said that this is a manifestation of British political marketing becoming more "Americanized" (see my previous post on this development). Image over substance has become more prominent.

Most attention getting is the visually outrageous merger of male and female features on posters.

The first example of this was probably issued by the British Labour Party in 2001. It caricatured Conservative Party opposition leader William Hague sporting Margaret Thatcher's hairdo and earrings. Later, Thatcher's hairstyle appeared a number of times on opposition leaders on posters and billboards.

A recent example of this image-manipulation creativity was produced by the British Liberal Democrats, which featured the face of Nigel Farage (the former leader of the UK Independence Party) wearing women's clothing, a giant pearl necklace, and with Prime Minister Theresa May's hair. The slogan made the Lib Dems's point clear: "Vote her get him." Farage was and is all for "Brexit" (the exit of Britain from the European Union), and the poster attempted to link May with the "UKIP model of Brexit," according to the Liberal Democrats

Posted by Steven Seidman at 12:46PM   |  Add a comment
Cover of Book, Daggers Drawn

From his first cartoon for The Economist in 1978, Kevin Kallaugher (or "Kal" as he prefers) has drawn beautifully rendered, insightful, and biting works. Since then, he has published almost 4,000 more creations. 

The cartoonist’s role typically has been to mock political leaders, or, as cartoonist Patrick Oliphant wrote, to provide “a leading vehicle for pointed and savage opinion." And Kal is a worthy successor of past great cartoonists—such as Thomas Nast, Bernard Gilliam, and Herb Block—who have pilloried politicians.

Many cartoonists depicted George W. Bush as a dopey figure, often drawing him smirking, and with closed or squinting eyes and bushy eyebrows. Kal drew him that way, back to back with his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, in the aftermath of voting in the contentious presidential election of 2000, with Gore drawn taller, with spiked ears and a large, pointed nose. Both candidates held guns, shaped like Florida (the state, whose recount would determine the victor). Kallaugher is known for detailed, crosshatched, pen-and-ink cartoons, in black-and-white and color—his crosshatching technique reminiscent of etchings by Albrecht Dürer and Edward Hopper. And, of course, he adds exaggeration to his portraits. He, like many cartoonists, drew President Barack Obama as an ultra-thin figure with huge ears.

Kallaugher is an unabashed opponent of President Donald Trump. In fact, according to journalist Thomas Urbain, Kal “has in the past depicted the real estate tycoon as a menacing animal.” But now that Trump has assumed office, “you have to be more nuanced,” according to Kal. “You attack his policies; his buffoonery,” he stated. In that vein, Kallaugher drew a potbellied, multi-chinned Trump with a hairdo that was only slightly exaggerated, pulling an "alt. right" cart, driven by Steve Bannon, with a rat atop his head.

His recent book, Daggers Drawn: 35 Years of Kal Cartoons in The Economist, includes great caricatures of U.S. and international leaders, drawn with a "poison pen," as Kal describes it. The exaggerated features of John Kerry (with an incredibly long face), a sneering Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush with the ears of Yoda (trying to build a "Star Wars" anti-missile defense system), Margaret Thatcher with a pointy nose, and Rupert Murdock as a kangaroo are just a few of the caricatures. The book is available at

Posted by Steven Seidman at 11:52AM   |  Add a comment
Theresa May with the 2017 Conservative Party Slogan (Photo: BBC News)

The British Conservative Party, led by Theresa May, has just released its new slogan, "Forward Together." The parliamentary elections are set for June 8, with May's party heavily favored to win.

The slogan seems to combine the 2012 slogan, "Forward," for Barack Obama and the 2016 slogan, "Stronger Together," for Hillary Clinton. 

And the colors and slogan of the British logo are quite similar to those of Hillary Clinton's New Political Action Group, which is called "Onward Together." 

For more on past slogans, see my 2012 blog post.

Here's a BBC article on the Conservative Party's slogan, with key policies in the party's manifesto listed: Conservative Manifesto Summary.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 1:01PM   |  Add a comment
Shepard Fairey, Poster, 2017

Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic "Hope" poster for Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008, has produced some striking anti-Trump posters.

One, titled "Demagogue," was done in collaboration with the band Franz Ferdinand, which wrote and performed a song with the same name. For more on this Orwellian poster, click here.

Recently, Fairey designed three posters, which displayed images of Muslim, Latino, and African-American women—with all the posters using red, white, and blue colors. The most powerful poster, in my opinion, is shown to the right, of a Muslim woman, with a flag hijab, seen looking out at viewers. All three posters were intended to be downloaded and printed for protesters at the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington, DC. For more on Fairey's recent posters, click here.

Fairey, who created a tee-shirt design for Bernie Sanders in the past election cycle, did not design anything in support of Hillary Clinton, who beat Sanders for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2016, although he did say he would vote for her.

Posted by Steven Seidman at 12:30PM   |  2 comments
Greg Auerbach, "We All Deserve a Future," 2015.

Many artists produced posters with artwork for the Bernie Sanders campaign for the 2016 Democratic Party's presidential nomination. 

Greg Auerbach—based in Los Angeles—created two that were available on his Web site to download, with prints of one mixed-media design, "We All Deserve a Future," sold on the Sanders campaign's Web store for $50.00. The work featured newspaper clippings and headlines such as "Rich-poor gap election focus—maybe not" and "Sanders prompts change," as well as images of The White House, flag, and the candidate, shown making a dramatic gesture.

To view some of Auerbach's political designs, click here.


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