"Politics is fundamentally a communicative activity. Because people and thier governments organize and maintian connections to each other through communication, the process of democratic rule centers onthe ability to create and preserve a system of mutual trust and respect through communication. Candidates for public office communicate thier values, goals, and objectives through thier actions, public speeches, statements to the press, public mailings and advertisements" (pg 9. Politics is Communication). Keeping this in mind, explains the importance of studying and analyzing a political ad.
Advertisements are one of the most wide spread ways candidates are able to express thier points of views and the audience should be aware of how to analyze the ads presented to them. The television ad's importance has been impressed in the past when candidates have lost political races based on one ad's ability to permanently impress the audience. The idea that,"Part of the fault rests with a public more inclined to gether political information from inadvertent exposure to ads than from news accounts, attention to candidate's speeches, or examination of position papers" (Broadsides to Broadcasts pg.
xxi) reiterates this point. As a public, everyone should be aware of how to analyze a political ad to be able to deem it acceptable. The political ad that will be inspected as an example of how to analyze an ad will be "First Choice". The reasons this particular ad needs to be examined is to help the audience understand the purpose of the ad and to understand the importance each image within an ad signifies. By being able to decipher the words with images the viewer becomes more educated and is capable of determing which ads are worthy of acceptance and effectiveness.
Once the viewer is able to read the ads in an analyitical manner, the ads meaning will be more evident. The ad "First Choice" is considered an effecdtive political ad because of the impact of Senator John McCain being the voice of the ad, the images and phrases associated together within the ad and fulfillment of the purpose of the ad. This will be proven by examining the text of the ad with the images that are shown simultaneously and interpeting the relevance of the combination in associtaoin with explaining the significance of the time period when the ad was released. "First Chioce" opens with a man giving a speech.
As he talks images are shown with his voice in the background being the sound. After the initial shot of the man is shown a slide that says, "Senator John McCain on the war on terror and President Bush" flashes to explain who is talking and what the speech discusses. His voice is the only constant factor in the ad and images are shown fading into each other, so as one disappears the next image begins to evolve. Such as the slide with the the Senator's name on it is white and in the background one sees the fall of Sadam Huesin's statue as it is being dragged across the plaza.
Each image is slowly replaced by the next and the statue disipates into the back of a man wearing a black coat, black head gear and shooting his gun into an empty street. The next image fades into Senator McCain giving his speech. The following image is a young soldier dressed in full camouflage, sitting outside in a battle area where there is barbwire fence and a stone wall in the background. The soldier appears to be staring straght ahead and then he turns to meet eyes with the camera.
Him staring fades into the back of military boots walking along a dirt road. The next image shows a close up of a soldier in full military gear with a helmet, sunglasses and mike attached to him looking at the camera. His stare fades into Senator McCain and then back to images of war as Osama bin Laden is shown speaking to the camera with a map of the middle east in the background. Osama fades into a soldier walking in a field with a second soldier and a missile or barrel of some sort lying on the ground next to them.
McCain giving his speech is flashed again and then images of the American flag posted on a house and waving in the air. The transition of the flag is a crowd of people holding miniature American flags and waving them. Near the end of the speech a multitude of images of Bush or McCain are displayed beginning with Bush speaking at a podium, McCain speaking, Bush on the phone in his ofice, Bush speaking to a crowd behind a podium with the Presidential Seal, Bush waving to fans at a speech, photos of the Bush family and Bush as he sits in his home speaking.
The ad progresses to McCain introducing Bush to the audience with whom he had been speaking to throughout the ad and as Bush walks on the stage the two men shake hands and embrace one another. Finally, the ad ends with Bush strolling through the outside of the whitehouse and a voiceover saying "I'm George W. Bush and I approve this message". When analyzing a political ad it is important to note the type and functions of the ad. According to Trent, "political advertising goes through four phases and thus produces four types of ads" (pg. 153).
The four phases are Phase 1 in which Id Spots or ads that bigographical and help the audience to identify with the candidate, Phase 2 that includes Argument Spots or ads that give the audience an idea of what the candidate represents, Phase 3 includes Attack Ads that give the audinces a negative idea about the opposing candidate and finally Phase 4 with Visionary Spots that persuade the audience to believe in the candidate and their ability to lead the country in the right direction. These four type of ads allow the audience to view the candidate in differnt lights and give the campaign direction when organizing the persona of the candidate.
While it is important to know the four types and functions of an ad one must also consider the purpose behind using a televion ad during a political campaign. Three advantages exist for a candidate when using television ads. First, the ad is able to persuade the viewer by apealing to two of the senses at the same time. All other ads besides television are only capable of appealing to one of the senses at a time: visual, as in a newspaper, or hearing, as in the radio. Through targeting the visual and hearing simultaneously candidates are able to give te viewer 'twice the message" (Trent, pg.
358) than one dimesional ads. The second reason television ads are favored is thier ability to address a large audience. According to Trent, " The viewership for a popular television show exceeds the readership for the largest circualtion papers in a community" ( pg. 358). Thus the money used towards television ads exceeds prints ads but is worth it for the coverage obtained. The political consultants for ads are also able to use the large television ausidence to thier advantage by picking the shows the ad will appear on to influence a specific group of people.
"For example, Monday Night Football is more prone to attract heavily male audience, while General Hospital is more prone to attract a heavily female audience" (Trent pg. 359). Thus it would not be logical to develop the same ad for both of these markets. Having an understading of when and where to project specific ads is a benefit of television to be able to address the audience needed. The targeting of the ad is the third advantage to using television as a communication medium. By using television in this manner specific ads are created for specific channels and television programs to increase the viewing and persuasion of the ad.