Negative political advertising – it’s nasty, but it works

Two of adlands most prolific bloggers have today written about the depths that political advertising has plunged to during the mid-term elections.  Polling day is tomorrow and both Seth Godin and  The Ad Contrarian have highlighted how the vast majority of negative political advertising is used to dissuade the undecided electorate from turning out.

The basic logic of running negative ads goes as follows – ‘if they aint gonna vote for us, let’s make sure they don’t vote at all’.  Convincing voters to stay at home sounds like a strange strategy to win an election, but most of the research data shows that it works.

“Since 1960, voting turnouts in mid-term elections are down significantly, and there’s one reason: because of TV advertising. Political TV advertising is designed to do only one thing: suppress the turnout of the opponent’s supporters.”

Seth Godin

“Political advertising has been horrifying for a long time now. But it has reached a level of nastiness and deception that I believe is unprecedented….

…The thing that should be really frightening to us ad people is that nobody studies the effects of their advertising like the political class. They test everything. They are constantly polling to see how their advertising is affecting their numbers.

Unfortunately, we ad people have to face the reality that this horrible advertising and the strategies behind it are alarmingly effective. It’s very sobering.”

Ad Contrarian

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