Advertising whose central focus is 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 differs from commercial advertising in that the product is either a person or a philosophy rather than goods and services, and, in addition, the advertising objectives must be met within a specific time frame. Also, political advertising carries a moral implication, because the results 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 slanderous or libelous claims made by political candidates. Political advertising involves the use of advertising by politicians to bring their messages to the masses. These usually warn voters that the gates of Hell will open and demons will eat skin off their still-living victims if voters approve a bond issue for school playgrounds. A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided. Political campaigns also include organized efforts to alter policy within any institution or organization.
Politics is as old as humankind and is not limited to democratic or governmental institutions. Some examples of political campaigns are: the effort to execute or banish Socrates from Athens in the 5th century BC, the uprising of petty nobility against John of England in the 13th century, or the 2005 push to remove Michael Eisner from the helm of The Walt Disney Company.
The message of the campaign contains the ideas that the candidate wants to share with the voters. The message often consists of several talking points about policy issues. The points summarize the main ideas of the campaign and are repeated frequently in order to create a lasting impression with the voters. In many elections, the opposition party will try to get the candidate "off message" by bringing up policy or personal questions that are not related to the talking points. Most campaigns prefer to keep the message broad in order to attract the most potential voters. A message that is too narrow can alienate voters or slow the candidate down with explaining details. For example, in the election of 2008 John McCain originally used a message that focused on his patriotism and political experience: "Country First"; later the message was changed to shift attention to his role as "The Original Maverick" within the political establishment. Barack Obama ran on a consistent, simple message of "change" throughout his campaign. If the message is crafted carefully, it will assure the candidate a victory at the polls. For a winning candidate, the message is refined and then becomes his or her political agenda in office.
A campaign team (which may be as small as one inspired individual, or a heavily-resourced group of professionals) must consider how to communicate the message of the campaign, recruit volunteers, and raise money. Campaign advertising draws on techniques from commercial advertising and propaganda. The avenues available to political campaigns when distributing their messages is limited by the law, available resources, and the imagination of the campaigns' participants. These techniques are often combined into a formal strategy known as the campaign plan. The plan takes account of a campaign's goal, message, target audience, and resources available. The campaign will typically seek to identify supporters at...