Ads Analysis for Presidential Candidates Term Paper

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Campaign Advertisements

Ad Analysis for Presidential Candidates

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Link to chosen campaign ad: http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1964

The main ad I viewed for LBJ was the one entitled "Our President." It was a black and white ad of still photographs. The pictures were of Johnson sitting with a look of concentration and his head resting on one hand. The message in the background talked about what the president is to be and what the presidents have been. It is basically saying that Johnson is the current president and he matches the preceding ones in his concern, prudence, etc. The language of the ad is formal and biographical. There are no harsh or negative words and the tone is measured and consistent. At the end of the ad, two things are noticeable. The narrator asks that you "Vote for President Johnson on November third" and secondly he adds the catch phrase which accompanies all of the advertisements. He says "The stakes are too high to stay home." There is no real artistry to the ad and as it is all stills, there is no particularly interesting part. Some of the other ads are moving pictures, and some are stills, but the common theme is that Goldwater is unsuited for office because of statements he has made and votes he has cast. The ad was not very influential except for the tagline. It seems that would be very effective after seeing an atomic bomb exploding. The still pictures ad was not appealing. I would make all of the ads have a little more action in them.

1976 -- Gerald R. Ford

Link to chosen campaign ad: http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1976

The ad chosen from those on the website for President Ford was the one labeled "Peace." The advertisement was value-laden in that it talked about how Ford had brought peace to the United States, something that it had not had in the previous three administrations. The narrator of the ad is male and the tone is happy. There are lots of smiling people, and the narrator seems to talk with a lift in his voice. The language and tone are very influential in this ad because it seems that the producers want something upbeat and light which is how it comes across. The end of the advertisement has a message in the middle of the screen to vote for President Ford. The artistry of the ad is its main feature. All of the people, shown from around the country, are smiling and playing while the narrator talks about how the country is at peace. The camera angles and the lighting all attempt to bring the viewer along for this joyful ride, and it is effective. The other ads in the series are a collection of ads that tend to fall into different categories. Some are biographical, other feature a person-on-the-street sort of view, another has a celebrity endorsement. There does not seem to be a common angle, unless it is that they seem to be trying to introduce President Ford to the public. It was a nice ad, but it was not very influential. On the other hand, it was very appealing. Everyone wants to be happy, and it seemed to say that Gerald Ford would make the people happy whereas Carter would not. The only thing missing is a little substance. Ford did not bring the peace, which most people would know, but he was the beneficiary. Give the ad more substance.

1976 -- Jimmy Carter

1) Link to chosen campaign ad: http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1976

The ad focused in here is one in which the soon to be president's wife, Rosalyn Carter, speaks for her husband. It is an issue oriented and a value-laden advertisement. Mrs. Carter is trying to convey what her job is in the campaign and how the people have influenced her. The narrator is Rosalyn Carter and she has a soft, unsophisticated, very Southern voice. She actually sounds like the female version of her husband. Her tone is conversational and the video is of someone who seems very approachable. She comes across as very genuine and only spends about ten seconds of a 60 second ad talking about Jimmy. At the end of the video she does mention that people should vote for her husband because she thinks he will make a great president, but the tagline that the other ads use ("A leader, for a change") is missing. It seems that they wanted this ad to be non-confrontational and nice rather than acidic. The lights, camera angles, etc. actually take away from the message because she seems busy in the pictures and laid back in the voice over. One thing to change about this ad would be that fact. It would be better if she was sitting talking, as a friend, to the country. The ad is both appealing and influential because she comes across as a genuine person who loves and believes in her husband. The other ads are primarily biographical. The people did not know Carter very well so aside from two negative ads, most of them were introducing Jimmy Carter to the people of the United States

1988 -- George Herbert Walker Bush

1) Link to chosen campaign ad: http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1988

The ad chosen from this campaign is one of the most famous political advertisements of all time. It shows prisoners going through a revolving door and talks about how as governor, Dukakis allowed convicted murderers and rapists out on furlough. Other ads talk about the callousness with which he regarded the program. This ad is both negative and value-laden. It is talking about people's security while labeling Dukakis as incompetent. The tagline says that "Now [Dukakis] says he wants to do the same thing for America. America can't afford that risk." The narrator is male and there is a ring to his voice that makes it sound like he is one "Law and Order." The language and tone are both meant to make the viewer feel unsafe. It says that of the prisoners furloughed, 268 escaped and many are still at large. Security is the message to these ads. There is no action specified; it is an anti-Dukakis ad rather than a pro-Bush ad. The tone is the entire message. It is saying that Americans would not be safe with this man as president. Two of the ads are positive and upbeat, but the majority are dour and negative although they do cover issues. Three issues are discussed: crime, environment, and budgets. The ad mentioned above details Dukakis' policies on crime and how they have failed; two ads talk about his budget deficits and that he raised taxes seven times as governor; three of the ads speak about how he has not cleaned up Boston Harbor as he promised. This ad could not be improved, it is very affective, though not appealing, as it is.

1992 -- William Jefferson Clinton

1) Link to chosen campaign ad: http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1992

The ad chosen from the Clinton repertoire is another famous one. It includes a clip of President Bush saying "Read my lips, no new taxes." The ad is negative in one respect because it points out that Bush raised taxes after he promised no new ones (which was not altogether accurate). But is also positive and biographical talking about Clinton's tax record as governor of Arkansas. The narrator is male and he sounds sarcastic when talking about Bush and confident when discussing Clinton. The tone of the ad is that Clinton can be the president that Bush said he would be. The ad asks the potential voter to vote for Clinton, and the tagline says "For people, for a change." The clip from the speech Bush was giving where he promises that he will institute "No new taxes" is the best shot of the video. After that clip the tone changes to positivity, and the camera angles always show Clinton in a good light. The clip of Bush seems to show him as a dour old man, while the pictures of Clinton show someone young and upbeat. Most of the ads have a negative message, but a positive tone. The positive tone coms from the fact that Clinton says he is going to change the America that is worse off since Bush took office. Some have people talking about how Bush has forgotten about them, and the obligatory shots of Bush's large house in Maine. The ad is very influential because it explains the lie that was told, it is appealing because it gives a young, hip alternative to a dour old man. The ad does not need to be changed, but maybe they could add more of the effect that made Bush look so negative when he spoke his famous line.

2012 -- Mitt Romney

1) Link to chosen campaign ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBcwBF96OsU

There were no Mitt Romney ads or any others for this election cycle at Living Room Candidate. The ad for this piece was from YouTube because there were none…[continue]

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