Gubernatorial Ad-Watch Evaluations
 
During the past few months the temperature has been rising in the race for California Governor.  The incumbent, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is being challenged by, the current State Treasurer of California, Phil Angelides. Although many analysts believed that this would be a landslide election of Schwarzenegger, the television advertisements have played a big impact on the tightening of this race.  As of October 17, 2006 the Rasmussen Reports have shown that Angelides is only down by about 9%, at a mere 40% likely to vote. All too often, however, these television commercials lack any meaningful information and rely on propaganda techniques to sway voters.  These short essays examine advertisements in support of Phil Angelides and also in support of Governor Schwarzenegger to see how effective they really are.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Campaign: Arnold (Schwarzenegger) for Governor
Air Date: September 22, 2006
Title of Advertisement: Resolve
This advertisement is available online at: http://www.joinarnold.com/site/c.jkIVLdMTJrE/b.2078017/k.C50F/Resolve.htm
 
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is running up for reelection this year, which means his focus is on California voters. As is common practice among politicians, Schwarzeneggers camp has released several commercials to promote his campaign and draw voters to support him. On September 22, 2006 Schwarzenegger released an ad entitled Resolve in hopes of drumming up even greater support of his campaign than what he already had. The question is, how accurate are the claims made by this advertisement? Is it full of truth or propaganda and spin tactics? Can voters trust this commercial as a fair representation of Governor Schwarzeneggers performance history?
Resolve opens with a man speaking in a soft toned voice as he narrates through the advertisement supporting Schwarzenegger for Governor.  The only comments made during the ad are statements reflective of Schwarzeneggers efforts to better California.  As the narrator lists these accomplishments a long continuous shot of Governor Schwarzenegger greeting a crowd of people is played. Full of excited people, the crowd creates a sense of popularity and support. The filming has been edited to play in slow motion along with low, very subtle, music played in the background.  While the video of the crowd is shown from a couple of different angles, Schwarzeneggers smiling face is at the center of each picture.
            Throughout Resolve key phrases taken from the narrators speech are shown at the bottom right corner of the screen. The commercial ends with a freeze frame of Schwarzenegger in the crowd and Schwarzenegger Protecting The California Dream written across the screen with www.joinarnold.com in the bottom right corner. When the commercial began Paid for by Californians for Schwarzenegger-2006 was printed in narrow white lettering to clarify who paid for it. The purpose of the ad is to reassure Californians that Governor Schwarzenegger has done his job affectively, kept his word and improved the state of California.
            The most obvious problem with the advertisement is that is lacks the mention of any sources to back up the claims made by the narrator. Another issue with Resolve is the way information in presented. To be honest, most of the arguments, while vague, are for the most part true. However, there are a few attempts throughout the 30 second commercial to sway voter opinion by glossing over the whole story.
            First of all, the entire visual aspect of the commercial consists of Schwarzenegger shaking peoples hands and walking through a crowd of supporters. Military berets can be seen towards the end of the video clip and this promotes the idea that the armed forces of California support Schwarzenegger for Governor. This can all be summed up in one word, bandwagon. According to Think Quest, this device is used to encourage people to do something so they can be on the winning side[1]. Showing a crowd filled with different types of people, elicits feelings of unity and support. Generally speaking people cannot help but want to be a part of the in crowd and this advertising technique taps into those emotions. Resolve displays Governor Schwarzenegger as a Man of the people instead of a government official that is removed from the people of the State he represents[2]. In todays society, the average person is so busy that when they go to vote they have based their decisions information that has been presented to them. Between work, family, friends and multiple responsibilities, people have very little time to go out of their way to research all the issues addressed on a single ballot.
            When examining the claims made throughout the commercial, most were pretty accurate. One that stood out from these, however, was the claim that he said he would invest record amounts in education, and thats happening[3]. The truth is Schwarzenegger has been in the middle of a legal battle with teachers and school over education funding. When elected into office, Schwarzenegger claimed he would restore $3 billion in cuts from schools[4]. Education funding did not end up falling at the top of his to-do list, instead it was protecting tax cuts and promising that in the near future he would restore the funding to education that hed promised upon taking office. He is now in the process of paying that money to schools across the state due to a lawsuit State Superintendent of Public Instruction (Jack OConnell) and the California Teachers Association filled against him. The money should be paid back, with interest, by 2013. Even though of the content in Resolve was not completely true or upfront, most of the material was in fact correct.
            Resolve claimed the following: 1. that Schwarzenegger said there would be not new taxes and there were none, 2. that we would bring jobs back to California and we did, and 3. that we would reverse our budget deficit and we did, and that we would protect our children and we have. Governor Schwarzenegger has in fact added not new taxes, cut the tripling of the car tax in 2003, and opposes Propositions 86-89 on the ballot this fall because they would raise taxes[5]. Through economic growth and expansion Schwarzenegger raised the States revenues by $20 million[6]. The Governor supports Proposition 83 on the ballot this year, Jessicas Law, which provides much stricter tracking/surveillance, and punishment for sex offenders[7]. Overall, Resolve is very close to a balanced look at the issues.
            The commercial obviously takes a positive look at Schwarzenegger, and only contains one major attempt at blurring the truth (the claim regarding education funds).  So, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), this ad rates an 8.5. The statement regarding education was clearly a response to all the bad press the Governor has received from the States teachers and education officials. Resolve is an attempt to convey what Governor Schwarzenegger has done so far and that his goals and priorities remain the same. The information provided is not in depth and is meant to show generalities about Schwarzenegger. There is not smoking gun or shocking revelation. Schwarzenegger, however, does not need a commercial with a lot of information or shocking news about any of his opponents since he is leading in the polls by double digits. This ad accomplishes exactly what it is meant to do, reassure those who are thinking of voting for Schwarzenegger. All of this being considered the commercial rates a 9.5 for effectiveness.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Angelides for Governor
 
            Phil Angelides decided to run for the governorship of California in the November 2006 ballots.  His campaign has financed many political advertisements that have been seen during primetime hours of television.  In a thirty minute period from six thirty until seven two positive Angelides ads aired.  Both were on ABC channel 10 during and after the popular interactive television show Jeopardy.  At the ad which was the most interesting to me was the Always on Your Side advertisement which was an advocacy ad sponsored by Angelides 2006.  This ad was a very friendly ad, which had the song Let Your Love Flow by the Bellamy Brothers in the background.  The first part of the ad begins in black and white and then moves to color basically just delivering positive information about past things done by Californias state treasurer.  Phil doesnt speak in this ad, but a man speaks of his achievements and there are pictures of him with different people with words such as: family, community, hard work, and opportunity moving onto the screen from the sides.  The url for this advertisement is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=378vevTuQEI.
            There were many techniques used in this ad paid for by Phil Angelides campaign.  One such technique was trying to become a plain folk.  In his ads he tried to relate to the everyday citizen by showing his family and saying how he did other things while he raised them. [8]
            In the beginning of this ad a very distinctive sign, which is placed on a wall, has significant meaning when tied to the year that flashes on the screen.  The sign Dump Nixon indicates the strong ties that Angelides is trying to depict as evidence that he is against war.  He never states in the ad his position on the war, but if you know his past as an anti-war activist, then you can connect the dots.[9]  The first thing that Phil said he wanted to do if elected is demand on his first day in office that California National Guard troops be returned from Iraq.[10]
            The music in this ad has a profound impact when watching the ad.  The song Let Your Love Flow by the Bellamy Brothers[11] is brought into the advertisement low and steady.  The lyrical language in this song theres a reason for the sunshiny sky creates a positive tempo when watching the ad.[12]  The only words that are really noticeable in the song is Theres a reason which leads one to believe that they are trying to capture the audience by telling them there is a reason for them to vote for Angelides. 
            During his advertisement he tries to appeal to his past good deeds when a picture shows Angelides standing with Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein when he was the state chairman in 1992 on election night.  His use of endorsement by the two leading politicians in the state shows his leadership skills.  The ad suggests that he helped California make history, but they dont mention what they accomplished.  His accomplishment that is mentioned in 1992 is getting two women to be elected as state senators in California.[13]
            During the pictures of the State Senators with Phil the quote "Phil Angelides has been the most effective and dynamic state treasurer in a generation." floats onto the screen by the Sacramento Bee, describing Phil.  Many other newspapers claim that Phil is one of the best state treasurers that California has ever seen.  The Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, and the San Diego Union-Tribune have all expressed how he has helped out California and has been an excellent treasurer.[14]  The figures and policies that Angelides has used during his years as States Treasurer have had a positive impact on California.[15] 
            The last part of the ad, which strikes the eye, are the words which come onto the screen, adjectives to describe Phil.  Hardworking, family, opportunity, and community describe the values that are important to Phil.  These are all good terms that most people would attribute toward the virtues within themselves.  By using these words, the advertisement creates a sense of familiarity with the viewer who likewise sees these virtues within their own lives. 
 
            This advertisement by Phil Angelides is presented very well.  The real test for Angelides is to get his name out there and become a familiar name to the people of California.  When you are campaigning against The Terminator you have to be well known.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is a well-known actor, and is a household name to Californians.  This is why I believe Phil does run so many advertisements during primetime hours of television.  Just getting his name out may be one challenge, but using his past deeds to predict his future deeds will be something his ads should also try to do.  He has helped with successful campaigns in the past, and knows how to run them, but trying to oust a favored incumbent isnt going to be an easy task.  I think using the song Let Your Love Flow was a great idea because it is an uplifting song, and reiterates the line theres a reason.  This made me feel like voting for him after I watched this ad a couple of times.  The reason why you should vote for him is laid out in the ad with all the values that he possesses, which an everyday person would also like to posses.  This ad is very truthful and doesnt go into too many details, but gives a great overview of Phil.  I think that ads like this one are good for a candidate who is trying to get his name known by the people of California.  I would have to rate this ad really high in truthfulness, with a score around an 8.  This score would be higher if he would give more facts or other details, but this ad is really vague and more geared toward past accomplishments.  As for the effectiveness and quality of information in this ad, this ad does a wonderful job in acquainting the viewer with the candidate they should vote for, Phil.  I would rate this ad as a 9 for both categories because it really got the message across that he was a good guy who has done good things in his past, while maintaining the simplistic life of the everyday ordinary person.  He relates to the viewer in this ad very well and this makes it an effective ad.  He uses the Sacramento Bee, as a source of building his character, which is an effective way of using a public source.  This newspaper is well known, and is located in Sacramento where he holds his office as State Treasurer. 
           


[1] Propaganda Techniques: Bandwagon, accessed 18 October 2006, http://library.thinkquest.org/C0111500/proptech.htm.
[2] Esther Thorson, Dissect an Ad, By The People Election 2004, Public Broadcasting Station 1995-2005, accessed 15 October 2006, http://www.pbs.org/elections/savvydissect.html.
[3] Californians for Schwarzenegger-2006, Resolve (video available online), accessed 10 October 2006, http://www.joinarnold.com/site/c.jkIVLdMTJrE/b.2078017/k.C50F/Resolve.htm.
[4] Schwarzeneggers flunked Report Card, Phil Angelides For Governor, accessed 17 October 2006, www.angelides.com/issues/education/schwarzeneggers-flunked.html.
[5] Governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sacramento Bee: PROJECTS p.3, accessed 19 October 2006, www.sacbee.com/755/story/37450.html.
[6] The Vision, Schwarzenegger Protecting the California Dream, accessed 19 October 2006, www.JoinArnold.com.
[7] Prop-83 Jessicas Law (available online), Antelope Valley Press, 22 October 2006, www.83yes.com/news/read/?id=41.
[8] Center For Media and Democracy.   http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Propaganda_techniques
[9] Schrank,Jeffrey.  The Language of Advertising Claims http://home.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/comp/ad-claims.html
[10] Shuffler, Jason.  Angelides Courts Anti-War Votes at Rally
Gubernatorial candidate makes a stop at SF State. http://xpress.sfsu.edu/archives/news/006943.html
[11] Bellamy Brothers. Let Your Love Flow http://www.twin-music.com/azlyrics/b_file/songs/bell/let.html
[12] Huron, David. Music in Advertising: An Analytic Paradigm. Musical Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 4 (1989) pp. 557-574. http://music-cog.ohio-state.edu/Huron/Publications/huron.advertising.text.html
[13] Political Desk.  Senator Dianne Feinstein Endorses Phil Angelides For Governor.  http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=2266
[14] http://www.angelides.com/endorsements/testimonials.html
[15] http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/publications/2006dar.pdf