Political advertising is a mainstay of elections. From the lowest level elections through to national elections, candidates spend money to get their message out to convince voters that they are the best candidate for them. Whether in print form, the airwaves or the internet, candidates try to ensure that they are visible to the electorate. Also contained in these ads are messages that inform prospective voters what that particular candidate hopes to offer.
There are various definitions of political advertising. One states that as a concept it is used during elections to inform, educate and set the political agenda using various media formats such as radio, television and print. One way voters gather political information is through political advertising campaigns. Political campaigns all over the world attract much attention and publicity and they have generated lively and sometimes hostile discussions (Mensa-Bonsu, 1979).
Political parties advertising is the structured and composed non-personal communication of information usually paid for and persuasive in nature, about products goods, services and ideas by identified sponsors through various media (Advertising Educational Foundation, 2005). Due to this, advertising is practiced in many democracies. Political advertising is a form of commercial advertising that politicians use to make voters aware of their record, their stand on issues, and ultimately their political vision (Arens & Bovee, 1994). It involves elements of planning, co-ordination and implementation, which would make the advertisement precise unequivocal and convincing; quality implies credibility (Anyimah-Acquah, 2000)
Meenu, Priyana, & Khusboo (2014 p.3) state that “advertising which focuses on the marketing of ideas, attitudes, and concerns about public issues, including political concepts and political candidates. The essential task of political advertising is to gain the confidence of the people for their acceptance of ideas and, in the case of political campaign advertising, to influence their vote. Political advertising include a mass communication used for the purpose of appealing, directly or indirectly, for votes or for financial or other support or opposition in any election campaign.” This shows that political parties have taken the basic concept of advertising and moulded them to suit their purposes. Meenu, Priyana, & Khusboo (2014) also differentiate between political advertising and commercial advertising “first, the product is a person or a philosophy rather than goods and services and second, the advertising objectives must be met within a specific timeframe.” This shows that the target of political advertising is different as compared to commercial advertising. Meenu, Priyana, & Khusboo(2014p.3) also claim that political advertising carries a moral implication, because the results of advertising have potentially far-reaching effects on the population at large. Political advertising raises many controversial social questions concerning the funding of political campaigns, the truth or reality of political claims, and the likelihood of defamatory claims made by political candidates. Political advertising involves the use of advertising by politicians to bring their messages to the masses. Politicians promote their parties to grab the attention of the electorate (Meenu, Priyana, & Khusboo, 2014).liUken co mmercial advertising where products are promoted, political advertising promotes individual. Political parties’ view election strategically. Not only this, they feel that the strategies involved in marketing of products and services by the companies may boost prospects in the election contests. The history of politics is as old as the history of
humanity itself. Politicians have always marketed themselves with an aim to win over their rivals by grabbing more votes during the election season. The primary aim for political advertising is to win over the electorate (Meenu, Priyana, & Khusboo, 2014). There are two types of advertising in the context of political advertising- positive and negative advertising. If a party tries to project a positive image of it by highlighting its achievements when it was in power, it is referred as positive advertising. While in case of negative advertising, one party smears another’s image by criticizing it. Both positive and negative advertising are the most common types of political advertising according to (Meenu, Priyana, & Khusboo, 2014).The technique is frequently employed to tarnish the image of the target party or any particular candidate.
Regular media coverage is called free because it allows candidates and parties to appear in the media without having to pay for it. Because this kind of coverage for example, the news resides within the responsibility of the media and therefore enjoys higher credibility than candidate sponsored activities, political actors try first of all to get into the free media. The downside of free coverage, however, is that the usual journalistic selection and production criteria apply, and political actors cannot influence when, how long, or how they are covered. Paid media, in contrast, allow candidates, parties, and sometimes-other interest groups to decide how they want to present themselves to the voters (Holtz-Bacha & Kaid, 2006). From this, one can see that politicians employ the use of both means to send their messages out to the electorate to make their decisions.
Political advertisements are very important to any political campaign. Whether it is through print, television or online modern means political campaigns rely heavily on them to get their message across to voters (Kaid, 2012). For instance, president Obama in his 2012 re-election spent close to $400 million. (Confessore and Mcginty, 2012).
Politics in Ghana made some progress through the work of the media. The history and development of the mass media in Ghana are inextricably linked to the country’s political history. Under colonialism, the newspaper, was introduced and used more as a political tool to link the centre to the periphery than as a tool for the dissemination of information (Anokwa, 1997; Ansu-Kyeremeh & Karikari, 1998). The liberalisation of the media landscape in the early 1990’s made it possible for political parties to reach a large majority of Ghanaians at all times and in various ways. Be it through television, print, radio or the internet, politicians have been able to bridge the gap between them and the electorate.
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