Gov: Campaign Ads

Campaign Commercials

Political campaigns use a number of persuasive techniques in an attempt to influence the opinions of voters. Political advertisements fall into two broad groups. The first group deals with issues, while the second group deals with images. Ads in either group can be positive or negative. Positive ads are aimed at making you like or respect a candidate. Negative ads are designed to make you dislike or fear his or her opponent. Both types of ads use persuasive techniques well known to advertisers.

Name-calling uses personal attacks on an opponent to distract voters from the real issues of the campaign. The goal is to inspire doubts about the opponent’s fitness for office by appealing to people’s fears or prejudices.

Transfer uses symbols or images that evoke emotion to something unrelated, such as a candidate or proposition.

Bandwagon creates the impression that everyone supports a cause or candidate. The technique plays on people’s desire to conform or climb on the bandwagon rather than being left behind.

Testimonial is having a well-known celebrity or personality endorse a candidate or proposal.The hope is that you will follow the person’s example without questioning his or her qualifications to make such as judgement.

Plain folks uses folksy or everyday images and language to show that the candidate is a regular person who understands the needs and concerns of the common people.

Card-stacking presents facts, statistics, and other evidence that support only one side of an argument.

Glittering generalities uses vague sweeping statements that appeal to voters emotionally, but don’t actually say anything specific. Candidates and proposals are often described in lofty terms.



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