Robert Mann, professor at Louisiana State University's School of Mass Communication and the author of Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics talked about the history of presidential campaign ads that aired on television.
The methods in which candidates, political parties and interest groups promote their positions and policies have evolved since the first television campaign ads aired. In this lesson, students will view videos of historical presidential campaign advertisements and analyze the features found within each to determine the overall effectiveness.
This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.
You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related evaluation chart and have students share their responses on a discussion board or learning management system.
You can also save and share the Google resources so students can review vocabulary terms prior to beginning the lesson, and take notes as they view the videos and complete the accompanying chart.
In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as how many items students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.
VOCABULARY CHART: How Effective Are Presidential Campaign Ads? (Google Doc)
NOTE-TAKING CHART: How Effective Are Presidential Campaign Ads? (Google Doc)
CHOICE BOARD: How Effective Are Presidential Campaign Ads? (Google Slides)
Have students share their thoughts in class discussion in person or through a chat feature on the following questions:
What role do political advertisements play in a presidential campaign?
Do you think they are effective? Explain your reasoning.
Have students view the video clip below and the answer the following questions.
VIDEO CLIP 1: History of Presidential Campaign Commercials (1:40)
Robert Mann, professor at Louisiana State University’s School of Mass Communication and the author of Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics talked about the history of television presidential campaign ads.
How was television originally used in campaigns?
Have students review the elements that they will be looking for in the political campaign ad videos to ensure understanding.
Using the Historical Presidential Campaign Ads handout or choice board, have students view the video clips and complete the chart by analyzing the factors listed.
Students can choose the videos they would like to view or be assigned individual advertisements and share their responses with the class.
You may want to view the first two videos from 1952 as a class so students understand how to complete the activity.
VIDEO CLIP 2: 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson Ads (2:00)
VIDEO CLIP 3: 1952 Interpreting the Ads (1:42)
VIDEO CLIP 4: 1964 Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater Ads (6:39)
VIDEO CLIP 5: 1968 Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey Ads (2:22)
VIDEO CLIP 6: 1980 Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan Ads (5:27)
VIDEO CLIP 7: 1984 Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale Ads (4:31)
VIDEO CLIP 8: 1988 George Bush and Michael Dukakis Ads (5:27)
VIDEO CLIP 9: 1992 Bill Clinton, George Bush and Ross Perot Ads (5:15)
VIDEO CLIP 10: 2000 Al Gore and George Bush Ads (3:17)
VIDEO CLIP 11: 2004 Ads: John Kerry (3:36)
Through class discussion or written responses, have students share their observations about the ads they analyzed. They should consider the following questions:
Choose one set of ads and explain their effectiveness based on the evaluation criteria that was given.
Then discuss how campaign ads have evolved over time and are used in the most recent campaign season to include different platforms of distribution.
Score the Ads! Using the rubric below, search online or on social media for a current campaign ad, or watch for one on television and rate it according to the criteria in the chart. Then explain your reasoning for your score.
HANDOUT: Political Campaign Ads Rubric (Google Doc)
Create an Advertisement: Using the strategies that were shown in the videos, create an advertisement that would help you or a candidate your support get elected president. Consider the platforms you have available today - television, social media, etc.