Hope and Fear in Political Advertising


Most ads – political and otherwise – are designed to appeal more to your emotions than your intellect. They have become the prime form in which candidates attack and respond, convey image and information, and woo voters. – Patricia Lopez Baden (Journalist, 1998)

Is an emotional response from a voter more persuasive than an argument? Political advertisers seem to think so. But is it ethical to use emotion to sway voters? And how far should political advertising go in trying to win votes? How can we remain vigilant in the face of well-researched, highly manipulative and deeply constructed strategies? In this interactive workshop, we will deconstruct the psychology of various campaigns to understand how images, music, stories, and slogans evoke emotions which can change votes, election results, and history. Using case studies throughout historical and current political campaigns, we’ll unpack the ways that elections are won and lost.

Learning Objectives:

1.    Develop analytical skills to uncover both superficial and more covert messaging underlying political election media including print, video and social media advertisements, and coordinated campaigns and campaign phases.
2.    Examine how political advertising and campaigns adapt to new technology and make use of evolving forms of media to target broad and specific demographics.
3.    Understand and evaluate the effectiveness of positive and negative spin in campaigns and their relationship to key issues in political platforms using historical and contemporary case studies from Canadian, American, and Latin American politics.

[Media Literacy Workshop designed by Liz Schulze + Hayley Gauvin]