Analyzing Political Ads
Political ads can be various but they all are aimed at reaching voters and making them loyal to the candidate; thus, they can be devoted to various topics that are important for voters. The political ads chosen for this paper are ads devoted to family and the symbolism of unity this theme expresses. This topic was chosen because many candidates appealed to family values, and a topic of family is important for most citizens. People can make their political choices on the basis of candidate’s close-knit family relations which show him as a reliable person and his promises to resolve various issues each American family faces.
The first ad is Family/Children (Bush, 1988) devoted to the presidential election of 1988 (“Family/Children (Bush, 1988).” Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2016, 1988, www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1988/familychildren). Visual images in this ad represent mostly children, parents and warm family relations. There are images of family members who look happy to be together. The sounds in this video are positive and soothing for the viewers’ perception. Pleasant and calm background music of Bush’s ad is also consistent with the general peaceful atmosphere of the video. Listening to this music, viewers are likely to become relaxed and forget about their problems. Narrative is made by several people, and one of them is an old woman what makes the ad focus on family values and the importance of keeping old family traditions. The tone of this ad is inspirational and optimistic, because most people have positive emotions when they see happy families. Symbolism is used in this political ad as well. Drawing attention to the family symbolizes Bush’s desire to take care of all American families. The ad was presented in 1988 by G. Bush during the presidential election. The ad brings a message of importance of family values for Bush. It seems efficient because G. Bush is shown as a person who loves and respects American families. He is shown with children and old people, and the ad expresses that people of different social groups will be under his care. The target audience is likely to include Americans who have families and want to have a president who will take care of them.
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The second ad is Sills Family (Kennedy, 1960) (“Sills Family (Kennedy, 1960).” Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2016, 1960, www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1960/sills-family). Visual images in this ad represent a family which Kennedy visits to know about their problems. Kennedy is also shown with his voters. There is no background music in the video. All the focus is on the narrative which includes such meaningful sounds as words said by Kennedy, the interview with a typical American family, and some persuasive part at the end of the video that encourages the viewers to vote for Kennedy. The tone of this ad is thought-provoking at the beginning of the video when the family tells about their main problems that are common for most Americans. Then, the tone is becoming optimistic as Kennedy promises to solve their problems. Symbolism in this ad is in showing the candidate closer to his voters and as the one who understands their problems. As Kennedy visits the family himself, it symbolizes his being ‘close to common people’ and makes him trusted and respected. The ad was presented in 1960 by Kennedy during the presidential election. The ad focuses on the main problems of common Americans that are mostly related to growing prices, and Kennedy promises to improve the economic situation. The ad is efficient as it tackles the problems vital for every American family and creates the president’s positive image as the person who is able to solve these problems. The target audience includes common Americans who share similar problems caused by the economic situation and are willing to vote for someone who can promise to make positive changes.
The third ad is called Morning (Clinton, 1992) (“Morning (Clinton, 1992).” Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2016, 1992, www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1992/morning). Visual images in this ad represent people from one town who worked in the textile industry but lost their jobs as production facilities were shifted to El Salvador. The sounds in the video include the former workers’ interview who stress that they have been a family and now everything is changed for the worse, and the narrator’s speech focusing on the economic problems and persuading the viewers to vote for Clinton. Background music in the video is calm and somewhat pessimistic. The tone of this ad is serious and thought-provoking at the beginning because people tell about their problems of current unemployment, what they have lost because of the economic situation. Then, the tone is more optimistic as the narrator sounds persuasive announcing Clinton’s promise to solve the unemployment problems. The ad attracts attention to the problems of common people and their families and symbolizes the people’s unity by mentioning that losing a job in a good team of workers is like losing a family. The ad was presented in 1992 by Bill Clinton during the presidential election campaign. The purpose of the ad is to show Bill Clinton as a person who can solve the problems of all Americans and bring about positive changes. The ad is efficient because Clinton is shown close to common Americans and able to take care of them. The target audience includes common people who have problems with work and need to support their families and who strive for some efficient changes.
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The fourth ad is called Barns for Obama (Web) (Obama, 2008) (“Barns for Obama (Web) (Obama, 2008).” Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2016, 2008, www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/2008/barns-for-obama-web). Visual images represent the process during which farmers paint the wall of their building with Obama’s logo and his name during the election campaign. The sounds in this ad include calm uplifting music and a persuasive narrator’s speech. The narrator tells viewers about the benefits of Obama’s program for the families of farmers and how he is going to support them. The role of teachers is also raised in the ad as the builders of new generation. The tone of this ad is optimistic and persuasive. The narrator promises that people’s lives will improve if they elect Obama as a president. The ad showing a lengthy process of painting a house with Obama’s identification signs symbolizes joint efforts of all Americans building a new country under the guidance of a new president. The ad was presented in 2008 by Barack Obama during the presidential election. The purpose of the ad is to show Barack Obama as a person who takes care of American people of various social groups and treats them as a family. However, the ad seems somewhat boring and not efficient enough, in my opinion. Looking at the same process for more than one minute is not captivating and can distract viewer’s attention; only narrator’s inspiring words improve the efficiency of the commercial. The ad is aimed at common Americans who suffer from economic problems and want to choose a president who values the role of teachers, farmers and people in other professions and knows how to build a new future
The fifth ad called Movement (Trump, 2016) is devoted to the recent political campaign (“Movement (Trump, 2016).” Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2016, 2016, www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/2016/movement). Visual images shown in the ad are very dynamic, it is the most dynamic commercial compared to previous ads analyzed. Many people and images are shown, including Trump’s meetings with his voters. The sounds in this ad include fast, dynamic and exhilarating background music, inspiring narrator’s speech and the final words said by Trump. The narrator tells the voters about the benefits of Trump’s program in terms of different aspects of America’s life, including family issues, various social problems, employment matters, army and other spheres. The tone of this ad is optimistic and convincing. Voters are persuaded to vote for Trump to improve their lives in various spheres and to move together to the successful future. The ad is full of symbols of movement and success which stand for the effective rapid changes. It also shows key words, such as freedom, future, success and appeals to the American dream. As the ad is very fast-moving, Trump is shown as a dynamic person and a strong leader who can focus on several issues and effectively solve them. The ad was presented in 2016 by Donald Trump during the recent presidential election. The purpose of the ad is to show Donald Trump as a person who takes care of families, employees and every common American. The ad is efficient because it is fast-paced and laconic, and its dynamic styles is eye-catching and helps to focus attention. The target audience includes all Americans who want to resolve problems in their country in various spheres and join together as a family.
All ads analyzed are devoted to the topic of family and its symbolism of joint efforts in building a new country. The topic of family and family bonds expressed in all ads appealed to the viewers’ emotions, because family relations are vitally important for most people and they symbolize unity. Candidates in all ads promised to solve the issues which can improve the lives of all American families and make the nation united.