Videostyle in Presidential Campaigns: Style and Content of Televised Political Advertising

By Lynda Lee Kaid; Anne Johnston | Go to book overview
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Despite differences in media and political system variables, these comparisons across several democratic systems of the advertising styles and effects of exposure show some striking similarities across cultures. Summary findings indicate:
1. Most countries concentrate the content of their ads on issues, although in 1992 Korea was an exception.
2. The political broadcasts across countries are overwhelmingly positive, not negative in their focus. The United States is the notable exception.
3. Despite the emphasis on issues and positivity, most leaders and parties rely on emotional, rather than logical proof to make their points. Exceptions are France and Britain, where logical proof is dominant, and Korea, where ethical proof is stressed.
4. Candidates and leaders across all countries are rarely the main speakers in their own or their party's broadcasts, relying instead on anonymous announcers to make their pitch.
5. Most parties and leaders have deemphasized the political party in their ads. Germany and Britain are exceptions.
6. While earlier research ( Kaid & Holtz-Bacha, 1995) found substantial differences in production styles, there is an increasing similarity in these across countries as well. This may extend in some cases to the actual copying of formats and styles among countries.

Certainly more work needs to be done to compare videostyles across countries and across political and cultural contexts. However, these results do indicate that there is considerable evidence for the idea that American-style "videostyle" translates quite well across borders. The United States may not be exporting merely democratic traditions of government and American television programming but American approaches to candidate and party marketing as well.

The authors wish to express appreciation to Jacques Gerstlé for work on the content analysis of the French ads; Gianpietro Mazzoleni and Cindy Roper for the provision and content analysis of the Italian spots; Holli Semetko for assistance in obtaining the British 1992 ads and John Tedesco for his assistance in the content analysts process; Sarah Oates ( Glasgow) and Stephan Henneberg and Nick O'Shaughnessy ( Cambridge) and Robin Hodess for assistance in obtaining copies of the 1997 British election PEBs; Andrzej Falkowski and Wojciech Cwalina for the content analysis of the Polish spots; Christina Holtz-Bacha for assistance with the German spots; Akiba Cohen for providing copies of the Israeli ads and Keely Cormier for the content analysis work on these ads; and Jinyoung Tak and Soobum Lee ( Korea) for assistance in analyzing the Korean spots.
Intercoder reliabilities were calculated using the formula suggested by Holsti ( North et al., 1963) and averaged +.84 across all categories for all samples.


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Videostyle in Presidential Campaigns: Style and Content of Televised Political Advertising


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