Advertising is described as a form of communication that focuses around persuasion as a mode of selling products, services or an idea in terms of ideology. The resultant factor of advertising is to drive consumer behaviour in respect to a product. Advertisement works by branding of an image or name to a product, this in itself causes consumer to associate some qualities to the product in question.
Advertisement has over the years taken a dramatic metamorphosis that has seen it going global in a matter of seconds; this has been facilitated by the web and the introduction of online advertising. Although advertisement is largely used in a product market as being the best mode of selling in a competitive market, it has been adopted in the world of politics as the surest way of selling one’s ideology to the masses.
In America, politics over the years have moved from the conventional way of campaigning where candidates used to move from one state to another to advocate for their manifesto and ideology. Today all it needs for an aspirant is to set up a web page and any one in the world can access it. Campaigners use advertisement as a form influencing the voter’s decision making process.
Campaign advertising generally takes two forms; it can take either emotional advertisement that focuses around empathy of the voters by persuasion where a particular person or party tries to be associated with the voter’s grievances. The other form of advertisement takes the form of attack where a person discredits his opponents based on their record or ideas and tries to sell himself and ideas as being the most viable and geared towards elevating the burden of the masses.
Attack advertisements are also referred to as smear campaigns although they form the basis of what is referred to as dirty campaigns; they are legal as they criticize the opponent views and ideas as not being viable. Over the years this mode of attack campaign has progressed and moved to a high platform. The most popular and widely watched of this form of advertisement is the head-to-head debate that is viewed by millions across America on the local television channels.
Although campaigning dynamics have changed over the past few years, what has remained the same is the fact that most political association or grouping employs the services of political scientists to design their campaign strategies as a means of carrying them towards achieving their goals.
The question that arises then from the discussion is how the public view political campaigns and the strategies employed. A good example is a case where people dislike negative campaigns. Such people are of the view that it lucks the gist of being informative thus it is mostly ignored as being untruthful and thus voters cannot relate to.
Another school of thought is that of the view that positive campaigns although it does not change its “tone” may not be truthful and thus it plays on the voters’ vulnerability and emotions rather than the content of the information they are giving. One of the paramount issues that remains in all campaigns is that campaigns are used by politicians to expand their political propaganda which they use to woo voters to their side of the political divide.
According to some analyst and journals which are of the view that negative campaigns tend to reduce voters turn out although this may be true in some instances it is crucial to mention that negative campaigns tend to offer the voters with a wide range of information in regard to each candidate policies.
This information may tend to be delegated with the purpose of mudslinging their opponents. The process allows for accountability as each of the candidates own up for what they have been accused of, which under normal circumstances they would not be obliged to do.
The other question that comes to mind in relation to political campaigns in America is the issue of how politicking affects and impacts on the citizen behavior. Although there have not been concrete studies of how and to what effect these political actors use these emotions for their own gain, there is a substantial evidence that they play on voters ignorance or luck of information.
For instance, most parties hold conventions and stage various rallies to drum up support for their candidates in areas where they have staunch followers. Based on some analyst social movement elicits sympathy from the voters. Advertising goes hand in hand with media and this has brought a lot of debate as to whether social media influences the voters view and perspective in voting.
It is widely believed that most media stations or what we may refer to as local televisions have been known to tilt the scale for some of the candidates in reference to the time given to a political advertisement to air. It is proven that an advertisement that tends to take long and receives wider coverage tends to be more effective in reassuring and convincing the masses.
Media tends to play on voters psychology in terms of opinion polls where a certain candidate may be the most preferred in a certain state although at times this may be true as it may also be used psychologically to capture the undecided voters who mostly constitute the majority of the voters.
In addition to capturing the voters mind, the media influences the ideas that most candidates give as their ideology, for instance most candidates will always place their promises on the masses demands regardless of whether they are viable or not. They try to please the masses; the media comes in as means to which these ideas are transmitted and at times emphasized, whereas the media is supposed to act as the watchdog, at times it forfeits its obligation in favor of certain candidates.
Looking at the previous American general election and taking into perspective the You-tube advertisement in particular Barrack Obama “same path” and Senator John Mc Cain advertisement “problem just became nightmare’.
In Mr.Obama’s advertisement, it is an emotional approach to the issues of tax cut, job employment and tries to highlight the cons of the previous administration based on economic performance where the rich were allowed high tax cut compared to the majority of citizens who basically fall short of that group. This type of advertisement tries to woo the voters by discrediting the previous administration policies and giving alternative options to the voters and show casing how his policies will reduce the plight of the voters.
On John McCain’s advertisement, “problem just became nightmare” it takes what we may refer to as a smear campaign because it comes to discredit him as being ignorant and a liar, as each of his policy statement is over written by what he had said earlier or just disputing his own words later.
For instance he is quoted in a US daily as saying he is well-endowed in terms of military knowledge than economics and later on in an interview he says that he is a good strategist and economist, on a visit to Iraq, Mr. McCain claims to not using an armored vehicle and that he walked through the city without much security later on we learn that the security he was accorded was massive including being escorted by two black hawk helicopters and Apache gun ship. This sort of advertisement smears his reputation as being a chit.
Lastly it is imperative to understand that political campaigns may be used as a means to tackling a mess that has been made in terms of an over statement made by either the candidate or people who are believed to be close to the candidate and who pull weight in terms of voters confidence.
A good example is that advertisement of Senator John McCain “John McCain vs. John McCain”. The advertisement comes as a means of salvaging an already bad situation to show that Mr.McCain is a straight talker who puts things straight and he accepts his shortcomings.
In conclusion, the debate about advertisement playing a key role in American politics will always be there as it is the most efficient means of capturing a massive audience and selling one’s ideas. Whether it takes a negative or a positive means it remains one of the most successful modes of campaigning.