“…And I approve this message.”

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other new media have assumed a more prominent role in the 2008 Presidential election. Barack Obama is touting more than a million Facebook friends and John McCain is capitalizing on his “Original Maverick” brand of advertising.

This historic campaign is unlike any that we’ve seen in recent history, with a number of election “firsts.” Not only is the length of this campaign season notable, but the speed and intensity that has sustained is mind-boggling.

With the urgency and reach of the internet, there leaves no time for either side to take a quick breather. E-mail updates, social networking groups, YouTube, and countless other resources have the ability to influence millions of potential voters with a few carefully calculated keystrokes. The power of one medium, television, has not waned in the past 50 years. It continues to be the most effective and direct way to reach key voter demographics.


mccain-obama-2008Political consultant Dane Strother said, “television ads are second only to a candidate in importance to a campaign.” The theory has held true, since as early as the 1960s. The full effect of a political TV ad is difficult to directly measure. however, significant studies have focused on the psychological theory of priming among target audiences. The priming theory is based upon the idea that repeated exposure to a certain message will trigger a specific response by the viewer.

The implementation of this tactic is evident in the present election season. Both the McCain and Obama campaigns are attempting to associate certain characteristics with each candidate. The campaigns are attempting to use this technique to attract potential voter. Obama brands himself as the “Change We Can Believe In” candidate, while McCain is portrayed as “The Original Maverick.”

As an antagonist, Obama paints McCain as a broken Washington insider. McCain portrays Obama as dangerously inexperienced. Both campaigns are hoping that these images will cause the voters to distrust the other candidate.

How effective are TV political ads? Do they ultimately hurt the voter by blurring the truth? Do campaigns focus too much on “spin” rather than issues that affect constituents?

The past 50 years have produced some creative, highly-effective television advertising campaigns.  Some of my most-effective political TV ads, in my opinion, are listed here. Some were chosen for their ability to hit home a specific message or simply for achieving a memorable level of visual creativity.

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of KTAL-TV or Nexstar Broadcasting Group.  They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2008 Lane Luckie


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