Politics and Advertising
In an article published in the New York Times, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris discusses the various ways that political campaigns have used real people ads over the course of the last half-century. Morris begins with discussing the campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower and his opponent Adlai Stevenson. In the Eisenhower the commercial a young female asks supposedly spontaneous questions to Eisenhower and then he responds. In the Stevenson commercial a very well poised woman gives a testimonial of why she is voting for Stevenson. These commercials are very well rehearsed and it shows. But Morris argues that in its day the commercials were effective. Morris then moves to the 1960 election and an ad for John F. Kennedy. The commercial shows Kennedy stopping over to an average American family home, the Stills family, and off the cuff discusses the financial problems that the family is facing. The ad is supposed to seem candid but comes off very rehearsed and cold. He continues with the 1972 election and describes a commercial for Gerald Ford. The commercial is a man on the street commercial. A man on the street commercial being where people are stopped on the street and asked whom they are voting for and why. But this commercial is slightly different; the people that are being interviewed are democrats who are going to vote for republican Gerald Ford. The commercial also shows a diverse range of people, a businessman, a black female, and an average working man. The commercial is effective because the people are not coached and the environment is not staged. Morris then moves to the 1980 election and a commercial for Jimmy Carter. The commercial shows a woman from rural Oklahoma stating how Jimmy Carter is a peacemaker. The commercial is very good because the woman is real and her feelings and emotions are real and that shows up in the commercial. The next commercial is from the 1984 election, and shows Reagan on his famous cross-country train tour. The commercial shows average American towns people stopping their daily life to go and see Reagan on the train. The commercial is somewhat convincing but could be more effective if we heard from the people instead of the narrator. Morris then moves to more recent history and the 2004 election and discusses the swift boat campaign of John Kerry. These commercials showed the men that served with John Kerry in Vietnam disproving what Kerry had said about his service in Vietnam. These commercials are very effective because they provide first person testimony, which translates to having voters automatically believe the veterans being interviewed. Morris concludes with the last election and reviews the self-ads and some ads he created. The self-ads are people creating their own ads for a candidate with a web cam or video camera. He states that these ads are not very effective. The ads that Morris created are of different people stating why they are voting for Obama. In all the article is very insightful of the types of political advertising and how they are used and the history of political advertising. In my opinion political advertising is very misguiding. Ideally the voter could find non-bias information on the candidate and make and educated decision before voting, but sadly this is not the case. The ads discussed in the article are in some way deceiving and bias. This political advertising is in no way the best way to communicate information to the voters. But not heavily mentioned in the article is attack advertising. Attack advertising in the lowest and ugliest form of political advertising and in my opinion totally unnecessary. If a candidate cannot convince and inspire voters with their knowledge, skills, and experience then the candidate does not deserve the votes.