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Comparing and Contrasting Campaign Ads

The Super Bowl of election primaries is tomorrow. Tuesday will be D-Day in Georgia as well as many other states. What better way to remind the adults in my student’s lives to get out and vote than by providing an opportunity for students to compare and contrast campaign ads! More often than not the exercise ends up being a parent-child discussion on the way to ball practice, on the way home from daycare, or the subject of dinner conversation.

First using Ease History we begin by looking at campaign ads from the past. As we watch them we categorize the ads into the following categories—-biographical, issue-oriented, values-laden, and negative. These terms come from a lesson plan at the website found here.

Once we have looked at several examples for each category I divide the class into groups. Each student receives a work sheet with the following questions (taken from this page):

Group Members:
Candidate in Ad:

1. How would you categorize your ad? (biographical, issue-oriented, value-laden, or negative)

2. Describe the language and tone of the ad? Is the narrator a male, female, or the candidate? Does the ad specify an action for the viewer (i.e. to elect the candidate, to visit the candidate’s website, to vote against the opponent)? How do language and tone shape the overall message?

3. How do words, images, color, music, camera angles, lighting, people, and symbols contribute to the message of the ad? Do you think they are effective?

4. Did this ad influence you? Did you learn from it? How did it appeal to you? How would you change it to make it more effective?

During our look at past campaign ads I also provide opportunities for students to answer the questions they will encounter during the group portion of the activity so that once they are are on their own they are familiar with the direction I’m trying to take them.

This activity meets several of Georgia’s standards for Language Arts as well as Social Studies.

Here are ads for each of the candidates that are still viable. I only took ads that were uploaded to You Tube by the candidate’s campaign. I tried to choose ones that have aired on television.

Now it’s your turn….Choose an ad or view them all and tell me which one(s) appeal to you, if you dare. 🙂 I haven’t decided yet which candidate I will be voting for. Perhaps your response will influence my vote.

Mike Huckabee

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