There's an interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal about the effects of negative advertising in politics. Writer John Ellis notes that the vast majority of voters described the just concluded election as either "somewhat negative," "very negative," or "extremely negative." From the article:
"According to Advertising Age magazine, the total amount spent this year on political advertising will reach $2 billion, a hefty increase over 2004. If one conservatively estimates that at least half of all political advertising can be fairly described as "negative," then 2006 will be the first year that negative political advertising expenditures reached the $1 billion mark. That's a dollar amount greater than all of the television, radio and print advertising buys done by Anheuser-Busch (estimated by Ad Age to be $919 million) in 2005."
A billion dollars to make the other guy look bad. Here's more:
"One would think that the major parties would grasp the concept that they are destroying the very profession they purport to love, and act accordingly. In the midst of all these negative messages, one would expect to find a broad, thematic campaign that aspired to something bigger than "he voted for toxic waste dumps and against your unborn child." When the Labour Party in Britain finally got tired of losing elections to Maggie Thatcher's Tories, they hired the best advertising minds in that nation to relaunch the Labour Party brand. The results were impressive. Tony Blair rose to power and rules to this day.
But in America, the major parties don't ever think in broad, national terms. They're all tactics and no strategy. They don't advertise themselves at all. Instead, they spend the hundreds of millions of dollars they raise microtargeting supposedly single-issue voters and bombarding them with negative messages about the opposite party's alleged disdain for those concerns. Put more simply, they send you junk mail you don't open, and leave robo-calls on your answering machine that you immediately erase."
Read the whole thing, here.
Here's a link to the Daryl Cagle cartoon (Nov. 8) pictured above.