Monday, September 26, 2011

The classic US political advertisement

Why is this advertisement a classic? Because of the well-trodden path in terms of the style, structure and the way in which it tries to evoke a whole series of emotional reactions among the audience.

It starts with the here and now. Obama is president, he is speaking, making promises. This cuts then to news reports which are selected carefully to demonstrate all that Obama offered has not been delivered. The music would be appropriate for a thriller, just when the hero is in danger. The hero here is America - of course. But then the saviour arrives. the music becomes upbeat, faster, the images faster, positive. Rick Perry promises a new form of leadership, the one that America deserves, all is suddenly right with the world.

The narrative is simple and all too common. The situation is bad, this is the blame of the incumbent. But there is an alternative. The imagery, music and words all associate Obama with negatives - the use of the word Zero especially. Is Perry building a 'from Hero to Zero' narrative for Obama? Perry is associated with all that is positive, sunlight, warmth, bravery and Americana of course. The classic comparative ad as if it had been lifted from a shelf and the images changed. As American as apple pie but also as universal as the debt crisis, this is the narrative that underpins so many election campaigns.

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