The Evolution of Political Video Ads

In 1952 the production of televised began. This was a major change in the way that politicians advertised . That paired with the airing of presidential debates starting with the debates between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960 changed the tides in many elections.

Political Television ads were first used in the 1952 election between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. That year the dreamy quality of the black and white video mixed with the hand drawn animation fit very well. It fit well with the type of film that was being produced leading up to that moment. They carried a quality that was similar to the pre-movie newsreels that were shown before films at the cinema, and were most often shown in those time slots. See “The Man from Abilene” here:

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The election years directly following had the same sort of quality. They played as if they were public service announcements and often contained heavy narration and a sort of testimonial from an everyday american. They were often a question and answer video in which the president would answer an important question related to an issue.

In 1964 Johnson vs. Goldwater there was “Daisy.” This short film was a demonstration of a juxtaposition a little girl and a nuclear explosion. It was one of the first political advertisement films to step into a more artistic playing field, and though there were others that toyed with the emotions of voters, it fueled direct emotional campaigns by politicians. See “Daisy” here:

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Lyndon%20Johnson%20-%20Daisy”]

In the last few elections we have seen a wide range of styles of political advertisement. The 2008 election was one marred by the smear campaigns with both sides working to kill the reputation of the other party’s candidate. One in particular for the democrat side took a break from that campaign and released a music video with multiple celebrity appearances. The democratic campaign of 2008 appealed to the youngest voting demographic; one that is often ignored. Here is the “Yes We Can” Music Video:

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Yes%20We%20Can%20-%20Barack%20Obama%20Music%20Video”]

This 2012 election, although still in the primary stages, have proven its worth in terms of political campaign ads. Politicians this year have really latched onto the viral potential of internet, thus videos have been popping up all over the web. Many have proven to be bizarre and strange, especially the advertisements for Republican Candidate Herman Cain. “He Carried Yellow Flowers” or  “Now is the time for action!” are both pose interesting issues in terms of advertisement as they present the viewer with violence, smoking and even drugs. Another very interesting choice of content was made for the republican candidate Rick Santorum. The short advertisement “Obamaville” played as if it were an advertisement for a horror film and used many of those “hollywood” film techniques that we see in the cinema. The video lighting is a sickly green and it carries the feel of a production.

The election year is not over yet and we can look forward to many more videos in a very close election year such as this. Political ads pose an interesting side of America, and really highlights the antics of politicians. They never cease to amaze us, but I suppose that is the point.

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