Published on October 8, 2007
Political Communication: Advertising Strategies: Political Communication: Advertising Strategies PS 120 November 30, 2004 Breakfast Cereal: Breakfast Cereal The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process." -Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson, 1956 Could advertising be described as a strategic game?: Could advertising be described as a strategic game? 2 Candidates Strategies: Positive advertising and negative advertising Outline: Outline Questions, theoretical and practical Presidential advertising Free media: news coverage Grassroots communication Discussion: How to run a winning campaign? Perspective 1: Political Scientist: Perspective 1: Political Scientist Issue dimensions (single dimension? 2 dimensions?) Strategic choice? Information is easier to obtain. Are voters more informed? Who leads and who follows? Questions from a political scientist:: Questions from a political scientist: Do campaigns change voters preferences? Are some types of advertising more effective? (Positive vs negative) Does advertising affect voters’ informedness? What process do candidates use to communicate their preferences to voters? Does this correspond with their actual preferences? What do political communications tell us about voters’ decision-making processes? Perspective 2: The Campaign Manager Issues: Perspective 2: The Campaign Manager Issues Consistency of the message Coordinating the media (buying vs earning) Efficiency Timing Effectiveness Packaging Questions from a campaign manager:: Questions from a campaign manager: What kinds of political communication will be most effective? To whom should I direct my message? How can I do this as cheaply as possible? Most importantly: How can my candidate WIN? Paid Media: Paid Media Television, radio, print and Internet People are more likely to believe what they see on TV compared to what they read (Pew Research Center 2000) Campaign ads fall into three categories: positive, negative and comparative Dissecting an Ad: Dissecting an Ad Background location Candidate mythologies (War hero, man of the people, father, savior, friend?) Emotion of the faces Appeals (positive, negative, factual statements?) Music Film editing, camera use Clothing and props Actions Code words Types of Advertising: Types of Advertising Positive ads: Tell the voter something good about the candidate or inform the voter about a position (“Safer, Stronger” from the 2004 Bush campaign) Negative ads: Tell the voter something bad about the opponent (“Windsurfing” from the 2004 Bush campaign) Comparative ads: Inform the voter about differences between the two candidates positions Television Ads: Television Ads Do they have any substance? Compare “Prouder, Stronger, Better” from the 1984 Reagan campaign where “it’s morning again in America” to “Willie Horton” from the 1988 Bush campaign Do they have the power to change your mind? View “Daisy Peace Child” and “Ice Cream” of the 1964 Johnson campaign. Are the stakes too high for you to stay home? From the perspective of the campaign manager…: From the perspective of the campaign manager… Television ads are expensive and increase in cost as the election nears Compare “reach” and “frequency” (reach = viewership that receives message, frequency = number of times a person sees the message). Reach * frequency = Gross Rating Points (GRP) Minimum threshold for GRP in the 1996 election was 1000 GRP Broadcast tv vs cable tv From the perspective of the political scientist…: From the perspective of the political scientist… Going Negative by Ansolabehere and Iyengar (1996) Tighter the contest, the more negative campaigning (92 and 94 elections) Run experiments in the mall (ad example) Negative campaigning hurts turnout/people’s interest in politics Radio Ads: Radio Ads “Generally, radio ads are not taped, nor are the transcripts of them closely analyzed by the press” (Shea and Burton) Good for negative campaigning, but lack the visual and subtle power of a tv spot Print Ads: Print Ads Newspapers read less frequently Cheaper and ad space is always available Easy to vary content for different markets Fear: Some campaign managers believe that if they do not buy newspaper advertisements, that paper would print negative stories about their candidate Anecdote: If a paper never puts in information about the candidate, “threaten to cancel the campaign ads and ask for your money back. The editors will hate me for telling you this, but for a small paper on a tight budget, this is an effective technique for your campaign.” (Shea and Burton) Internet Ads: Internet Ads Begun in 2000, used more heavily in 2004 Internet used by 2/3 of American adults Tend to be more negative and longer Compare “Mistakes Were Made” vs “Kerry’s Coalition of the Wild-Eyed” (Bush-Kerry 2004) Proliferated via email (sent to campaign supporters and then asks them to forward these ads to their friends) Cheap Strategic Communications: Strategic Communications Buy ad space where it will help the candidate the most Time the release of such ads so that the candidate builds a base before the market is saturated and space is expensive Communicate policy, confusion, or criticism News coverage: News coverage Campaigns and the Use of News Coverage: Campaigns and the Use of News Coverage Free (called “earned media”) Builds credibility Candidates build relationships with media organizations throughout the campaign to attempt to get as much positive coverage as possible According to the “Ragin’ Cajun” James Carville, if the campaign does not feed the media, the media feeds upon the campaign. “Unbiased” Information: “Unbiased” Information Journalism has a history of being tainted since early America (and esp. in the late 1800s) on the desire to sell more news Beginning with the AP, journalism became more objective Note that deciding what news is fit to print is a business; if people don’t enjoy the news, they won’t buy the newspapers Consequently, the stories that the campaigns give the media must be newsworthy Feeding the Media: Feeding the Media News releases (short articles with text that is newsworthy, written exactly the way the campaign would wish the news to appear in the paper). Include pithy quotes from candidate Campaigns give media “actualities” (short statement from candidate) and a short article about event. The campaign does the reporting! News conferences Media events (work blue-collar jobs, sleep among the homeless, serve food at soup kitchens, meet senior citizens, climb into hot air balloons) Debates Grassroots Campaigning: Grassroots Campaigning Money spent on advertising can be overcome by grassroots volunteers (direct contact better than indirect advertising) Volunteers walk precincts, telling residents information about the candidate Literature drops Telephone banks Candidate handshakes Walking = Winning?: Walking = Winning? Green and Gerber performed a series of experiments, testing to see what technique was most effective at producing turnout (a Get Out the Vote Campaign) Find a personal approach is more effective than an impersonal approach To get an additional 200 votes you need: 400,000 robotic phone calls, 27,000 mailers or 2800 conversations at people’s doorsteps! Discussion: How to Win?: Discussion: How to Win? Suppose you are suddenly in charge of the Bush or Kerry campaign. It’s June and neither convention has taken place. Where would you allocate your resources? (television, radio, internet?) Time with media organizations? Handshakes? Walking precincts? How would you determine where they needed to go? How many issues would you include in your message? A few parting remarks: A few parting remarks Civic duty, turnout, and walking precincts. Is voting a social norm? How did it get to be that way? Negative ads and participation Strategic communication of policy positions, inspirational messages, negative ads, and those intended to confuse the voter Political discourse and conflict exists, do elections ensure that the voters are interested in government?