Home > BLOG 3 > The Selling of the President

The Selling of the President

While I am sure that there are many changes to campaigns over the last 40 some years, I don’t feel as if the book was clear on explaining them.  Although it could have been just my view on things.  That being said I did find the hunt for these differences to be very interesting, and it was a great look to see just how we as american truly value the image of the people we are electing to office. 

It is very abundantly clear that political races, especially those involving the president are based solely on packaging and selling the candidate.  A very large part of this packaging and selling happens on the television set.  Now especially with the frequency as to which we watch television and have access to these images, I feel as if we have become numb and expect to see the prim, proper, and very well dressed, well voiced candidate.  But in the 1960’s it was a major thing to see candidates on the TV, and if the people didn’t like what they saw, it spelled disaster for the candidate.  ie.  Nixon v. Kennedy 1960.  So here begins our obsession with the appearance of our candidates.  defiantly, this is still something we see on a day-to-day basis. 

The book also talks about Kevin Phillips the “ethnic specialist” who used group susceptibility to determine “what blocs can be moved in what states by what approach” which is actually a smart marketing technique.  Spending more money, time and effort on those who you can persuade or who you don’t need to persuade and just keep them on your side.  This still is a very prevalent practice in today’s society.  In very stong democratic states, i.e. ones that ALWAYS have a tendency to vote that way, it doesn’t really do much good to spend all of your advertising dollars there because the chanced of getting them to switch to your party is highly unlikely.  While the book talked more about appeals to different regions, I feel my example is relatable. 

One area where I saw a pretty significant difference is Nixon’s hour-long television spots.  I got the sence that they were filmed as more of a television sitcom and not a political information spot.  To me it was a lot more scripted than what we are used to today.  Today we see a lot more debates, and q&a sessions. However,  I see why the Nixon campaign took this route.  I just feel like someone who’s appearance America doesn’t like early wouldn’t get far enough to need this type of structured television show. 

I also noticed a difference in the campaign ads show for television.  Today we are used to the candidate talking to us with the all to common ” I approve this message” tag line.  You didn’t see a whole lot of this, some of the time, it wasn’t even Nixon’s voice you heard on the advertisement.  I just don’t see candidates getting by with that today.

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