Communication Consultants in Political Campaigns: Ballot Box Warriors

By Robert V. Friedenberg | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Television Consultants: The Air
Force of the Ballot Box Wars

As observed in the first chapter, though there was limited sporadic use of television commercials in political campaigns prior to 1952, the 1952 presidential campaign marked the introduction of television as an important campaign medium. Both General Dwight David Eisenhower and Governor Adlai Stevenson made use of television consultants in 1952. The Eisenhower campaign's usage of television consultants in 1952 warrants our closer examination, for the consultants behind it set critical precedents which are still being followed in today's campaigns.


TELEVISION CONSULTANTS IN EISENHOWER'S 1952 CAMPAIGN

Although authorities differ, in part because the numbers were changing throughout the campaign, by 1952 in excess of 17 million American homes were equipped with televisions. By estimates available at the time, potentially 50 million Americans might watch a major political event, such as the party conventions. 1 For the first time, television became a major vehicle for candidates to utilize in conveying their messages to voters.

From the very outset, both parties relied on television consultants to help them utilize this new medium. Those consultants initiated a number of practices which have become common in the years since 1952. First, from the very outset, television consultants were concerned not only with the message, the advertisements, and programs that were used, but also with time buying. A major part of the services consultants provided to

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