From 30-second spots to 30-minute infomercials, presidential campaigns have long relied on television as the best way to communicate with the American public. Even the ubiquitous cable news shows and electronic media outlets have not supplanted the importance of the carefully crafted TV ad in American politics, where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every cycle. Political ads distill a candidate’s research, polling, and communications efforts and are the basis of a lasting public record of a candidate’s strategic plan.
This evening, scholar and author Robert Mann highlights examples of early political ads and discusses the genre’s evolution over time. Then, campaign strategist and political consultant Mark Putnam talks about the current state of political advertising and industry strategies and tactics. Finally, Alicia Kolar Prevost of American University’s Campaign Management Institute moderates a discussion about advertising’s place in political campaign strategy.
Mann holds the Manship Chair at the Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University, and is the author of Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics. Putnam is a national political media consultant who wrote and produced Barack Obama’s 2008 30-minute TV special American Stories, American Solutions.