BSU Major Party Candidates Political Advertisement Project

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Political Campaign Advertisement Analysis  Fall 2019

You must analyze two major party (Democrat or Republican) candidates. Use candidates for any county or state position. The ads must be from 2019! Find campaign advertisements on YouTube, the candidates’ campaign website, etc. Advertisements may be sponsored by the candidate’s campaign organization, a political party, or an interest—group.  

View these ads as a campaign strategist might. So, for each candidate, try to view each ad, each word, each image, and each sound, and imagine the purpose it serves in the ad. Why was it placed there? What did the candidate or interest group that created the ad intend for the effect to be? As a viewer, how were these images, sounds, and messages received? What can we learn about the candidates and their parties from viewing these ads? What do these ads reveal about how candidates, parties, and interest groups view voters?   

For each advertisement viewed, the following themes should be addressed:  Advertisement Tone  The tone of the ad (is the ad a positive statement about what the candidate stands   for, or is the ad an attack on the opponent?). Be sure to discuss the criteria you used to determine whether an ad was considered to be positive or negative (or neutral) for the purposes of your paper.  • If the ad is positive, what types of images, sounds, associations, or slogans are used to promote this tone? • If the ad is negative, what types of images, sounds, associations, and slogans are used to create this tone?
Candidate’s Agenda

• What elements of the candidate’s issue agenda are present in the ad? • Does the candidate enumerate elements of a specific policy proposal? If so, what is the policy (or policies) that the candidate seeks to promote? • Does the candidate emphasize any non—policy messages such as leadership, experience, compassion, etc.? • On balance, on what basis is the voter being asked to select the candidate? Is the appeal primarily a policy appeal, or a non—policy appeal?  The use of symbols in the  ad.


• Examine images used in the ad, and what those images are intended to symbolize to the viewer (i.e., the setting, objects, persons). • If there is a narrator, is it a male or a female? How would you characterize the narrator’s voice? • Do other persons appear in the ad? If so, what do they represent?

Other Intangibles

• Is there music, and if so, what effect is created by this? • Is there anything interesting about the movement of the camera that may evoke a particular type of emotion in the viewer? • Describe anything else that you feel contributes to the appeal that the candidate is making in the ad that may not be captured by the other categories.

Candidate’s Appearance

• Does the candidate appear in the ad? If so, do we see the whole candidate, is the focus on the candidate’s face, or is there some other presentation? What image does this convey to the voter? Does the candidate appear friendly? Sympathetic? Professional? • How is the candidate attired? Is the clothing casual or formal? What type of image is this designed to convey?

Target Audience

• Sometimes, the target audience of the ad may be revealed by the setting of the ad, or the persons portrayed in the ad. So, an ad set in a factory and discussing blue collar jobs may be designed to appeal primarily to working class voters, although a job’s theme may have a secondary appeal to a larger  
audience (in that claims about economic improvement presumably appeal to all).

• Alternatively, an ad about equal pay may be directed primarily toward women. • Try to look beyond just the people in the ad and the setting. Who is most likely to be affected by the policy/ issue that the ad is discussing? Or, what types of voters are most concerned about this topic? The target may not be a particular socio—demographic group. Instead, the target may be liberal voters or  socio—demographic group. Instead, the target may be liberal voters or social conservatives

Or, candidates could be targeting their own base (that is, members of their own party) in an attempt to mobilize their supporters.

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