A. Read the following selections from the
Margin Notes by clicking on each link.
B. Watch these presentations. When you click on one of the links below, a new screen will pop up. Use the scrollbar on the side of the new screen to navigate.
You need Adobe Reader to view PDF files.
C. (Optional) Read the following chapters from the textbook.
There are no chapters to read for this unit.
D. The following
Optional Links are designed to help you do better in your course but
they are not required.
E. Activity #1: Analyzing Political Advertisements (10 points)
For this activity you are going to analyze some political
Before you actually start your analysis, though, you need
some background information.
To begin, go to the
30 Second Candidate
and click on the From Idea to Ad link. In that section of the site, read the information under the following headings.
On that same site, click on the
Tricks of the Trade link and watch the 11-second basic ad. After you've watched the basic ad, see how the ad changes (and how those changes are made) under both of the following links.
Now go to
and follow the links to read the descriptions about the
common propaganda techniques.
word games -- name calling, glittering generalities, euphemisms
false connections -- transfer, testimonial
special appeals -- plain folks, bandwagon, fear
It's time to analyze some political ads. I've chosen 25 political ads for you to watch and analyze. They can all be found at Living Room Candidate. I'll walk you through the first ad from the table below ... you'll be able to handle the rest by yourself.
Look at the table below. From the columns on the left, you can see that the first ad is described as
1952, Dem, 1st, I Love the Gov. On the site, find the list of election years and click on
1952. Now find the row of pictures labeled Democrat and hold your mouse over the
1st picture in the row. You can see the title is I Love the Gov. Click on the picture and that ad will begin to load. Once it's loaded, watch the ad. I want you to enjoy the ads and see how things have changed over time but you also need to keep in mind the various propaganda techniques you read about in step 3. If you think any of those 8 techniques are present in the
I Love the Gov ad, check the column under any technique that applies. You're also welcome to come up with a different technique (the
other column) if you think it's appropriate for any of the ads.
Blank Political Advertisement Analysis Chart
Tip #1 -- You'll need
Real Player or Windows Media to watch the ads. If you don't have either, scroll to the bottom of the
Unit I page and you'll see links that will take you to sites where you can download free versions of either.
Tip #2 -- Click on the
Settings link under the TV to adjust your video preferences. This is especially important if you're having trouble viewing the ads. You might want to play around with the settings until you get the best mix for your computer.
Tip #3 -- Before watching ads from an election year, skim through the brief
Overview for that election year so you'll have some idea what was going on during that election. If you'll do that first, the ads will make more sense.
As you watch the ads, think about the following questions.
Does the ad define the candidate, the issue / issues or the opponent?
Are there connections between the propaganda technique and what the ad defines? For example, does every ad that defines the issues tend to use glittering generalities?
Does the ad convey information or simply attempt to evoke emotion?
Does the ad tend to reinforce prejudices or previously held convictions?
Are there patterns that differentiate the incumbents' ads from the challengers' ads?
What do you think the ad is trying to accomplish? Do you think it is successful?
Do NOT answer each question for each of the 25 ads. Just look for patterns, similarities, differences, etc. Too, keep in mind the
date of the ads. A 1952 ad might not impress you much but it may have been cutting edge technology at the time.
The written response you send to me will be in two parts.
Your work should be thorough, specific, include relevant concepts from the
course material and be free of spelling and grammar errors. [NOTE: As I've
done below, I almost always list the things you need
to include in your assignment so you won't miss anything. However, you
should never write an assignment as a list unless the instructions
specifically tell you to do so. Lists encourage short, quick responses,
and they don't usually require much thought or much attention to spelling
and grammar. They also won't earn you many points! Instead, write your
assignment in complete sentences and paragraphs, using the list only to be
certain you cover everything. Do your best to make your writing thorough,
thoughtful and organized. Don't try to be concise ,,, Try to be complete.]
1. List the 25 ads and tell me what propaganda techniques (if any) you
think each uses.
You may copy and paste the table above (or part of it) or you can simply list the number of the ads (1 through 25), followed by the techniques -- for example, 1 testimonial, 2 plain folks and fear, 3 other (explain), and so on.
Note: There are no right answers to this but there are wrong answers. By that I mean that for almost all of the ads you can make a case for more than one technique any of which I will accept. However, on almost all of the ads there are
techniques that clearly do not apply and anyone who has read the definitions of those techniques would know that. For example,
I Love the Gov does not use fear no matter how hard you might try to justify that choice.
2. I'd like your answer to the question:
Does political advertising have a positive or negative effect on the democratic process?
Your answer to that question may be as long or as brief as you want but it must pass two tests.
a. First, your answer must exhibit an understanding of
political science concepts. Make specific and detailed connections to course content.
b. Second, your answer must reflect the information given in the assignment,
including the sites you were asked to visit.
Use what you learned from the assignment to make your case. Too, while I welcome you to include your opinions as part of your comments, those opinions must have some basis in fact. This is the time to demonstrate some critical thinking!