Kaitlyn Tambasco, Assistant News Editor
With state and congressional elections only a few weeks away, campaigning is in full swing. That means citizens of all ages can look forward to near-constant exposure to political advertisements on TV, on the Internet and on social media.
Campaign ads have been around for a few centuries. At the same time, ads themselves have developed to include different messages and tones, the most common being the “good” or “positive” ad. The second type is the exact opposite, ads that make a certain candidate or issue look bad.
Professor of Government and Politics Daniel Tagliarina explained that the tone of a political ad often depends on the content of a message and the intended emotion campaigns want viewers to associate with it.
“Generally, issue-based ads are harder for the average consumer to [follow and recall],” Tagliarina said. “Moreover, negative emotions such as anger and fear are well documented as being stronger political motivators.”
Negative advertisements, Tagliarina explained, tend to play to the emotions that make people more likely to act, and in this sense, are more effective. However, when asked what they prefer, most people would say that they do not like negative campaign ads and would rather see positive ones.
“This dislike of negative ads isn’t met with a similar decrease in their use, as they not only drive turnout at the polls from those who are angry, it also tends to suppress turnout among moderates and independents who often do not feel as invested in politics or specific candidates,” Tagliarina said. “Thus, they are turned off by negative ads or led to dislike both candidates, and do not vote.”
Another indirect form of political advertising, Tagliarina mentioned, is called “free” or “earned” media. This would involve saying or doing something to be covered by the news, and ideally have it repeated multiple times by other sources.
“This is free or earned in the sense that you get attention and then others broadcast your message- because it is remarkable, worth discussing, or sometimes because people think it is objectionable but just keep repeating it anyway- without having to buy ad time,” Tagliarina said. “It functions like an ad, but differs in that you don’t pay for it and don’t have full control over the messaging the way you would with an ad that you created.”