Substance: The What in
Negative Political Advertising
NEGATIVE POLITICAL ADVERTISING:
THREE MODES OF ARGUMENTATION
A negative political ad, just as any short story, can be broken down into what is said, substance and its underlying themes, and how it is said, presentation style or plot. Both style and substance are important for any ad to be successful. Each of these, however, has its own individual constraints and advantages. Successful use of both style and substance make for effective political ads. The use of style and substance together provides us with a synergistic effect in that they "become related to one another and interact dynamically" ( Bordwell & Thomp son , 1979, p. 28), thus the total advertising package is greater than the parts.
We begin our exploration with an examination of substance, what is said. In our analysis of the substance of negative ads, we consider the argumentation mode of the negative appeal (how are arguments structured), the political symbology (are the messages manifest or latent), temporal directionality of the evidence (do the political ads deal with the past or with the future), and the thematic designs for political and personal issue appeals (what is the manifest and latent content of the substantive argument).
In any discussion of substance, one of the key questions is: "What arguments are presented to persuade the public?" A corollary is: "How are the arguments used in combination to provide for effective argumentation?"