The Weekend Five: Types of Political Advertisements

With the presidential election just two days away, many of us have long since decided which candidates we plan to vote for (or perhaps have already voted!) and are now just waiting to see what happens on Tuesday when the polls close. Nevertheless, the candidates still seek to sway the undecided voters and apathetic citizens by interrupting our favorite shows on Hulu with political advertisements coming from all different perspectives.

Having cast my absentee ballot several weeks ago, I look forward to the day that we can stop posting politically charged Facebook statuses and watching these ads. Whether I flip on my television or even turn the radio to the Spanish language station, I’m still flooded with “I’m ____ and I approve this message.” In honor of democracy, our upcoming election and my Bachelor’s degree in Advertising, I would like to present this weekend’s list of different types of political advertisements.

The Weekend Five: Types of Political Advertisements

1. “My opponent is awful.”
Instead of addressing what he or she plans to do for the country, the candidate instead takes jabs at his or her opponent, focusing on everything that this person either has done wrong or will do wrong if elected. These ads are completely negative in nature and tend to include a lot of graphs or out-of-context soundbites of the opponent saying something absolutely ridiculous and unforgivable.

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2. The Rebuttal.
Candidate B has seen Candidate A’s advertisement attacking what Candidate B said in that one speech, and now he’s mad. Candidate B counter-attacks with an equally bad soundbite of Candidate A that was likely also taken out of context. We haven’t learned much about what the candidates actually believe, but we do know that they really like pulling up old clips of their opponents.

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3. “My mom is my reference.”
When you’re applying for a job, and your prospective employer asks you for references, who do you turn to? If you’re at all serious about the job, you’ll want to carefully select past employers or people you’ve worked with who are familiar with what you have accomplished. In most cases, you would not choose your mother or your spouse to vouch for you. However, politicians don’t follow that logic, and instead will prominently feature their family members in some ads, who will then speak to the candidate’s personality or how great of a father he is. I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking to vote for a political candidate, I want to know about where he stands on the issues important to me — not how wonderful of a job his parents think he will do.

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4. The Trying-To-Be-Hip Ad.
Politicians are constantly trying to target the youth vote, either through commercials featuring young people worrying about the country’s future, or through commercials that take things a step further by using almost-hip lingo and insulting our intelligence in the process. As a 22-year-old, I was actually a little offended by a Mitt Romney commercial that compared him and President Obama on how “cool” they were. The commercial concluded with the idea that even though Romney wasn’t as “cool” as Obama, he was still the right man for the job. Although there is nothing wrong with the message of the ad, I was annoyed that advertisers actually thought that young voters would select a candidate so superficially. I have voted in two presidential elections thus far, and in neither did I select a candidate because of his apparent coolness (nor have any of my friends or acquaintances, for that matter). Rather, I voted for the candidate whose vision of America reflected my own, the candidate that I believed would be best for our country. These ads condescend to their audience of 18-25 -year-olds because they assume we’re still thirteen and care about voting for what’s” cool.”

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5. The Fight for the Marginalized Groups.
Both parties will pose advertisements that are directed to marginalized groups (whatever the focus may be for the particular election), assuring them that their lives will be better under a particular candidate’s reign. This year, women are the target audience of many ads, which admittedly has proven interesting as each side fights for their support, discussing what they plan to do to preserve women’s rights. The middle class is another important demographic, as each party argues reasons why the middle class will disappear if the other candidate is elected. (I would love to hear what the Republican candidates have to say to their gay constituents, but that’s another story!)

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What types of political advertisements are you sick of seeing?

Let’s not get too partisan in the comments section — this blog was written for fun and not to create too much of an argument! :) I’m always fascinated by the types of ads that politicians put together, and would love to know more about some of the memorable ones you’ve seen this year.

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