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Only Got 30 Seconds to Save A Life

Emotion, persuasion, truth, and style: the keys to a successful campaign ad. Media is saturated with news, opinions, and entertainment as it reaches everywhere, from our televisions, to our phones. TV commercials are the only thing remaining that gives a presidential candidate full control over his image. So what makes a persuasive, yet entertaining presidential campaign? My answer: one that helps citizens to understand what the potential president would actually do. Giving such information enhances presidential accountability.

What can a president do? Make his or her priorities clear. Will he or she promote alternative energy, tax cuts, etc?

Presidents pursue their campaign plan so the answer to this question really matters. Presidents work to follow through with their key plan because the issues that they emphasize most in their campaign appeals are the issues they emphasize most in their first year in office.

Because every four years we collectively forget what presidents do, most criticism of presidential candidates and campaigns by journalists and specialists misses the mark. We complain that presidential candidates and their campaigns spend too much time attacking one another or that they don’t disagree clearly enough. However, candidates can reveal their agenda priorities in vague or negative appeals, too. In addition, if negative campaigns keep people engaged and vague claims keep them optimistic, then citizens are more likely to hear the competing agendas.

Effective political ads use sounds and images to communicate information, advance an argument, and affect voters emotionally, all in a very short period of time—frequently just 30 seconds. Ad makers must therefore use all of the cinematic tools at their disposal (video, images, voiceovers, sound and visual effects, music, titles, and editing) to win voters’ hearts and minds.

It only takes 30 seconds.

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