Classes & Workshops

The Thirty-Second Candidate: Political Advertising on Television

Grades 9–12

Class Description

This class uses the Paley Center's collection of political advertisements from the past fifty years to illustrate how candidates attempt to win the hearts, minds, and votes of the American people. Students will focus on techniques of political advertising, target audience and demographics, how advertising conveys leadership, and the role of policy in campaign ads.

All classes are interactive, with guided discussion designed to encourage active observation and critical thinking.


As a group, provide definitions for the following words and concepts, which will be referenced during the class.

ADVERTISING: Paid communication conveyed by a mass medium that directs public attention to a product or idea by emphasizing its desirable qualities.

BRAND: A class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer. To brand is to create a unique identity for a product in order to distinguish it from its competitors.

JINGLE: A catchy, repetitious short verse or song in a commercial, created to help the consumer remember the product.

LOGO: A product's visual identifying statement, created from a unique lettering style, typeface, or graphics.

MEDIA/MEDIUM: A channel or system of communication, information, or entertainment, such as broadcast or cable television, magazines, newspapers, radio, or billboards. Mass media bring advertising messages to the public.

SLOGAN: A short, catchy phrase, usually more memorable than meaningful, that the audience will automatically associate with the product. Generally central to an advertising campaign.

TARGET AUDIENCE: A specified audience or demographic for which an advertising message is designed. The members of a target audience often share certain characteristics, such as age, income, gender, ethnicity, values, or lifestyle.

Pre-Visit and Post-Visit Information

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Pre-Visit Activity | Post-Visit Activity


A good resource for monitoring campaign advertising and campaign coverage is provided by the Columbia University School of Journalism: Campaign Desk

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