Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ads are annoying, not aiding, voters

Campaigns are now having to find alternative methods to reach out to their audience

This campaign season has featured inescapable Internet advertising, leading a July 2012 University of Pennsylvania study to announce that more than 80 percent of American adults detest being targeted by Internet political advertisements.

Such hatred of political advertising has generated a small change, however. Campaigns have been forced to discover a new way to appeal to Americans: entertaining rather than attacking.

Few political advertisements use humor or narrative exclusively, but those that do are successful, grabbing voter attention anew. Political advertisements based on humor and narrative reveal hope for future campaign techniques but remain as dishonest as their attacking counterparts.

Devoid of scrolling statistics or narrators suggesting impending doom, entertaining political advertising allows humor to pave the way for argument and relatable stories to spur discourse.

Leonie, an internationally renowned communication campaign firm, asserts that humor makes individuals more susceptible to any argument. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) employed humor Oct. 16, placing a new spin on a prickly campaign issue: tax policy.

Instead of presenting viewers with mathematical evidence, the DNC offered a website with one instruction: click the red button to learn more about the Romney tax plan. As soon as your mouse clicks the button, it dodges away. The more you click your mouse, the faster the button leaps.

Since Oct. 16, Romneytaxplan.com has been tweeted more than 73,000 times and boasts more than one million Facebook “likes,” outpacing video advertisements addressing the same plan.

Furthermore, humanizing political advertisements also leads to more productive discourse. For instance, the Obama campaign debuted “The Life of Julia,” an interactive website, in May 2012. The website follows fictional Julia as she leads a healthy, productive life thanks to the Obama administration’s policies.

The day after Julia appeared online, the Heritage Foundation revealed “A Better Life for Julia,” copying the Obama campaign’s storybook format and character to propose conservative values for Julia. These sites contradict each other, but strive to remain relatable.

Chasing a red button or reading a story is a refreshing break from the incessant attack ads, but the new approach does not aim for truth.

“Julia’s happily-ever-after tale is remarkably void of reality,” former U.S. secretary of education William Bennett said in May 2012. “Nowhere in her fictional life is it mentioned that Head Start has done little, if anything, to improve elementary education, that she will likely graduate with $25,000 in student loan debt, that she has a 50 percent chance of being unemployed or underemployed after college.”

Given that these ads present humor before detailed information and narratives leaving out crucial details, they can be more dangerous than attack ads. Viewers jump to share the interesting sites with their social media circles before researching the policies presented.

Americans will soon cast their ballots for the next president, but the verdict it out on traditional campaign advertisements. If campaigns expect Americans to move forward, believing in their country, it is time to spend the final few days offering revolutionary arguments through new advertising avenues.

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