Packaging the Presidency: A History and Criticism of Presidential Campaign Advertising

Packaging the Presidency: A History and Criticism of Presidential Campaign Advertising

Packaging the Presidency: A History and Criticism of Presidential Campaign Advertising

Packaging the Presidency: A History and Criticism of Presidential Campaign Advertising


Packaging the Presidency, Third Edition, is now completely updated to offer the only comprehensive study of the history and effects of political advertising in the United States. Noted political critic Kathleen Hall Jamieson traces the development of presidential campaigning from early political songs and slogans through newsprint and radio, and up to the inevitable history of presidential campaigning on television from Eisenhower to Clinton. The book also covers important issues in the debate about political advertising by touching on the development of laws governing political advertising, as well as how such advertising reflects, and at the same time helps to create, the nature of the American political office. Finally, current public concerns about political advertising are addressed as Jamieson raises the topic of ads dealing mainly in images rather than issues, and of political aspirations becoming increasingly only for the rich, who can afford the enormous cost of television advertising.


In the years since the original publication of Packaging the Presidency, the amount of money spent on political advertising, the impact with which it is credited, and the amount of news time devoted to discussing it have all increased. in 1984, news analysis of political ads was rare, but in the wake of the 1988 presidential campaign it became commonplace. Newspapers led the way in the off-year election of 1990. and in 1992 the major ads by Bush and Clinton were scrutinized for fairness and accuracy not only in the nation's best newspapers but in broadcast news as well. Predictably, the candidates then found ways to use the adwatches in their own ads, creating the possibility that viewers who had not seen the original adwatch would learn of it through another ad. Nor was the use admakers made of adwatches necessarily fair or accurate.

The 1992 campaign also raised important questions about the nature of political advertising itself. Should a music video attacking George Bush and aired on mtv be considered an ad and as such an in-kind contribution to the Clinton or Perot campaigns? the same question can be raised about a tribute by Country star Randy Travis to the returning Gulf War vets titled "Thousand Points of Light" that aired on the Nashville Network.

The 1992 campaign marked the resurrection of the radio ad as a presidential advertising form. in the final weeks of the campaign, rapid volleys of Bush and Clinton radio ads carried specific charges and countercharges to specialized audiences across the country.

And in 1992, independent candidate Ross Perot gave lie to the political axiom that the public won't watch longer political ads. in half-hour broadcasts, the Texan attracted large audiences with his chart-filled analyses of the economic decline of the country -- an effort that effectively doubled the amount of anti-Bush information on the air in the general election campaign.

This edition of Packaging the Presidency brings the history of presidential advertising through the 1992 campaign.

Philadelphia May 1995


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