Political AdsTechniques and tricks that political ads use to sway your vote.
By: Rebecca Gilbert, Sibley Scribe
With a presidential election coming up in November, start looking forward to your television being bombarded with political ads telling you who to vote for. In fact, as leafing through a website, there stood an advertisement telling me to join Michelle Obama to tell Barack I’ll be voting for him. For most seniors here, you will be able to vote in this election so maybe these ads will have some actual bearing on your life. Or… Maybe not.
Politicians and the advertisers who come up with these ads put millions of dollars and countless hours into these ads in order to sway your vote. In 2010, the average House seat winner spent $1.4 million on campaign advertising and of course that number can only rise. So where does this money go? How is it used? There are many techniques used in political campaign ads, most of which we’ve learned in classes like World History. Yes, politicians use things like the bandwagon appeal, glittering generalities- using words like “change,” “hope” or “trust.” And of course name calling.
One of the most used techniques in political advertising is name calling, but do negative ad campaigns really work? Even though most politicians believe they do, voters are becoming a little savvier. In a survey conducted by thisnation.com, 59% of voters believe that all or most candidates deliberately twist the truth in these negative campaign ads. As these campaigns become more and more violent and direct, the same survey finds that 87% of voters are concerned about the level of personal attacks in today’s political ads and 43% believe that most of candidates deliberately make unfair attacks on their opponents.
Another technique politicians use in these ads is hyperbole. An article in LA Times states, “And with political advertising, hyperbole is inevitable. Who’s to say whether a particular breakfast cereal is the ‘world’s greatest’ — or a particular candidate ‘Wall Street’s best friend’? Some assertions in campaign ads aren’t easily verified.” Politicians use these hyperboles because they cannot be disputed; there’s no way to test whether a candidate is “Wall Street’s best friend.” This is one of the best ways to relay an idea that simply isn’t true because the government cannot accuse them of false advertising. The bandwagon appeal is used very often because of the ability to make someone feel like they should vote for this person.
The appeal to patriotism can be used as a bandwagon appeal especially in the U.S. right now, Americans are looking for a symbol or value that they can all hold onto. When a politician says something like, “Vote for me. Vote for America” they’re pulling at your heartstrings, or maybe they’re causing a gag reflex, because most Americans long to be part of the majority.
So when that Election Day rolls around, don’t listen to these propaganda clad ads; always look at the facts before you believe something carefully manufactured to make you believe something else. Oh… And have fun at the voting booths!