The brainwashing of campaign ads


Salon has a couple of interesting articles, including this breakdown of Obama’s and McCain’s latest ads by messaging guru, Kathleen Hall Jamison.

My takeaway from this very long article: the explanation of a contrast ad vs. an attack ad.

The most important thing an ad can do on an issue is to differentiate a candidate from the opposing candidate. Contrast ads are more effective than attack ads, because they both attack and make a case for the candidate. This ad is a contrast ad. It suggests that Senator McCain is part of the problem and Senator Obama is part of the solution.

That’s a classic challenger ad. You’re basically positioning Senator McCain in this ad as the incumbent and Senator Obama as the challenger. Now for practical purposes, neither one of these candidates is the incumbent. They are both, to some extent, challengers. But by indicting McCain for his long time in Washington, they tie the age issue to McCain, they make experience a negative and then, with the specifics identified against McCain, suggest what he has done with that time has not been advantageous. The beginning of that ad is very effective if the audience finds it plausible. The topic of the ad is important because this is the issue the American public is focused on at the moment. And by virtue of focusing on it, the candidate says, I care about this issue.

Jamison goes on to explain that the difficulty that Obama has with this ad, his “National Priority” ad, is that he is on the wrong side of the public opinion polls on the issue of offshore drilling.  In an ideal world, campaigns wouldn’t just be about brainwashing the electorate with messages and images but educating the public about issues.

Why doesn’t some environmentally concerned third party jump in an run a few million dollars in ads to explain why offshore drilling won’t bring down gas prices and ultimately increase our problems?

T. Boone!  Where are ya on this one, T. Boone!

Also on Salon, more about John McCain and his internet savvy.  Is anyone else starting to think that the presumptive Republican nominee is a little bit of a luddite?

Again, the point is not so much that McCain needs to be Captain iPhone to be an effective president.  Undoubtedly, he would have plenty of people around him who understand these issues.  However, in the final analysis, the decisions are his and his alone (or they should be).  So it might help to have someone who understands all of the nuance of America’s information technology infrastructure so that when he is presented with multiple points of view, he can synthesize the best policies.

No knowing not to call it “The Google” doesn’t instill much confidence that he can do that.


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One Response to “The brainwashing of campaign ads”

  1. Bryan Bliss Says:

    You should check out the article and video on Campaign ad brainwashing over at . if it werent so creepy it would be funny.
    thanks and take care,

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