I'm Julian Sanchez, and I Approve This Blog Post

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I notice that in the campaign ads Bush has been running—notably the ones that are negative on Kerry—the "I approve this message" message required by McCain-Feingold is tacked on at the beginning of the spot rather than the end, as seems to be more conventional. And it's a little surprising that it is a departure from convention, because it strikes me as the clearly correct place to put it from the candidate's perspective. A good negative ad should be structured to avoid backlash: Putting the approval message at the head gets the identification with the sponsor campaign out of the way, so the viewer is left with the negative message, rather than taking it in and then being reminded who paid for it. This may sound like overreading, but these things are too meticulously produced to assume that even something as trivial-seeming as the placement of the ID message is decided arbitrarily. I'll be interested to see if the Dems begin to mirror this structure.

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  1. Don’t worry, by the time we get to McCain-Feingold II there will no doubt be (in addition to a requirement that only Republicans and Democrats be allowed to opine on political affairs in any forum) specific instructions about where you have to identify yourself in an ad.

  2. I think the logical place would be in the middle of the advertisement.

    “John Kerry has voted against feeding starving children over 384 times.”

    “Hi, I’m George W. Bush and I approve this message”

    “If elected president, John Kerry will make our national language French and will replace baseball with crepe making as our official, national pasttime.”

    no?

  3. While it IS different to have the candidate having to say, “I’m John Smith and I approved this ad,” we’ve been putting the disclaimers at the beginning of negative ads on the local level for quite awhile. I do mostly print ads for candidates, but also do some radio every now and then. In my state, the candidate’s voice has to appear in the ad in order for it to qualify at the low political rate, so the candidate’s voice many times does the disclaimer. On negative ads, I’ve had the disclaimer at the very beginning for at least the last eight years or so. So this isn’t anything really new. It’s probably just more noticeable since the candidate has to word it in a more prominant way at the federal level now.

  4. While it IS different to have the candidate having to say, “I’m John Smith and I approved this ad,” we’ve been putting the disclaimers at the beginning of negative ads on the local level for quite awhile. I do mostly print ads for candidates, but also do some radio every now and then. In my state, the candidate’s voice has to appear in the ad in order for it to qualify at the low political rate, so the candidate’s voice many times does the disclaimer. On negative ads, I’ve had the disclaimer at the very beginning for at least the last eight years or so. So this isn’t anything really new. It’s probably just more noticeable since the candidate has to word it in a more prominant way at the federal level now.

  5. Not only does the disclaimer come at the beginning, but it is a standard segment that is editted into each ad. The lighting is different, the voice is different, the appearance is different, and there is a fade out/fade in effect between the disclaimer and the body of the ad. It ends up looking like two ads appearing sequentially, so great is the thematic difference between positive, presidential Bush walking past stately columns on a sunny day, and the dirty-feeling, negative stuff that follows. Very effective use of the medium.

  6. If you’re afraid of reminding people you approve of a message at the end, you probably shouldn’t deliver that message.

    matt

  7. I think we should make it completely fair — at the start of any candidate’s ad, the opposing candidate comes on and says “I’m Mr. X, and the following ad from my opponent is a filty, rotten lie.”

    Fair and balanced.

  8. If you are still watching political ads, you have bigger problems.

    How could anyone willingly put that crap into their minds?

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