Comparing and Contrasting Political and Commercial Promotions Essay Example

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The term “advertisement” generally refers to the mass media contented that is created with the purpose of persuading the audiences of readers, listeners or viewers to respond on ideas, products and services. The main concept behind promotion is to drive the consumers’ behavior in a certain way in regard to a particular idea, product or service. However, promotion takes different forms. For instance, there are promotions meant for commercial purposes, others for entertainment, health and even political purposes. In many nations of the world, commercial advertising has become a fundamental feature of their cultures. As seen in the mass media, it is an inescapable yet pervasive. However, commercial promotions are widely acknowledged as fair and rightful marketing. On the other hand, political advertising has become significant to the campaign strategies. It is therefore regarded by many people as being more intrusive than the normal commercial advertising. This essay will focus on the political and commercial promotions. The paper will discuss the similarities as well as the differences between the two promotions. In addition, the paper will explore the target demographics; persuasive techniques employed by the two types of promotions as well as the budgetary their respective requirements.

Differences between Political and Commercial Promotions

The world of commercial advertising is not the same as that of political advertising. For instance, in the political promotions, there are really no ‘rules’ governing the content of the advertisements. The accuracy of the claims made by political advertisers is not subjected to any scrutiny. I other words, the political advertisers are not held accountable to any form of regulatory body for claims made. Contrary to this, the commercial promotions have legal regulations and frameworks that govern its content. Political advertisers readily engage in “comparative advertising”. They deliberate criticize their competitors. Also, political promotions are characterized by incessant complains made by the competing parties in regard to the comments made about them and their fairness. Interestingly, there are no forums that are acknowledged to review such comments or claims. However, the press normally tries to create periodic on the political promoters by running ‘ad-watch’ reports. Such reports don’t help much. Rather, they fuel public cynicism. Unlike the commercial promotions, the cotemporary political promotions have led to “avoidance” mentally on the electorate as well as the overall political participation (Mailer, 1992).

The state of political promotions has raised concern in the world of commercial promotions. Major professional advertising associations and firms have largely deplored the absence of accountability and unwillingness of political advertisers to follow the code of ethics. Such unwillingness of the political promoters or advertisers to adhere to the code of advertising ethics exposes the public to not only unsubstantiated but also inaccurate claims. It is a compulsory requirement for the commercial advertises and promoters to subscribe to the “advertising code of ethics” that is governed by a government selected body. This ethical code gives a provision for handling false complaints as well as misleading claims. Those complaints pointed towards specific ads are forwarded to relevant authorities for review. In case the reviewing body finds a valid complaint, the ad is required to be discontinued or modified (Mailer, 1992). There is also a possibility of the reviewing body to forward the complaint to the relevant government agency. Lastly, a noncompliance notice identifying the advertiser may be issued by the agency if the advertiser is not able to comply with the termination or modification request. There is fear among the commercial promoters that the apathy provoked by political promotion campaigns are likely to damage the persuasiveness and ultimate credibility of many traditional types of advertising. Although political promotion use has spread significantly in terms of absolute frequency of exposure as well as the increasing duration of political campaigns, it is evident that political promotion is till miniscule when it is compared with the commercial advertising.

The common distinctive element of political promotion is the unenthusiastic tone and content it portrays. This is characterized by the engagement of political advertisers in comparative advertising whereby the performance and programs of the opposing candidates are ridiculed and criticized by the competitor. Contrary to commercial promotions, highlighting the weaknesses and liabilities of the opponents in political promotions takes precedence over identification of the strengths and programs of the candidate’s sponsor (Nikoltchev, 2005). When tracked comprehensively, negativity of such political ads makes up nearly one-third of the total campaign adverts used in presidential campaigns like in the US.

The use of loaded language is the most common technique used in political ads. “Loaded” language here means the use of words with very strong negative or positive emotional associations. This kind of technique has been a longtime tradition in political promotions. Mostly, political promotions use negative language as a way of casting doubts on the opponents. The selection of language and langue structure in political promotions plays an important role in ensuring that the message is conveyed to the audience successfully. The political advertising language incorporates verbal techniques that appeals to the emotions and senses of the viewers with a powerful political message.

In terms of target demographics, political promotions have taken a finer move from targeting large persuadable crowds of people to individual homes (Kaid & Holtz-bacha, 2006). With the quest for as much number of voters as possible, many political promotions are aiming at television ads. For example, DISH and Direct Television networks give a provision for political promotions to run concurrently with TV ads at specific households. This is a phenomenon that is set to take over and even dominate the landscape of political television advertising. Political promoters work in conjunction with media analytics to establish television shows and programs which are likely to attract most viewers (Diamond & Bates, 1992). For example, running political promotions alongside a lifestyle show or a sports program helps in capturing and persuading the viewers of such shows. Unlike commercial promotions, addressable political promotions go even further into specific homes or households where potential target groups dwell. This way, political campaigns can beam political ads to individual households regardless of the kind of channels, programs or shows being watched by the individual dwellers of the households (Nikoltchev, 2005).

While political promotions and campaigns use massive amount of money, commercial promotions don’t. Commercial promotions are determined by the profitability of the product or service being advertised. Also, most companies have financial targets to be achieved. Therefore, most commercial promotions exercise caution while advertising so as to make sure that the budget allocated for a specific commercial promotion does not exceed the likely income that is expected from the sale of the product or service being advertised. Political promotions in most cases have no limits for their budgets. This is because every party aims at winning the voters’ minds at all cost at the same time outdoing advertisements from the competitors. In general, political advertisements aim at getting the electorates’ votes whereas commercial advertisements aim at obtaining dollars from the consumers.

Similarities between Political and Commercial Promotions

The most obvious characteristic of both political and commercial promotions is that both involve repetition. Repetition is a form of technique that has proved to e successful in driving a message home. Repetition is a characteristic feature of all commercial and political promotions that use slogans or jingles. Repetition is an advertising technique intended to retain a phrase or word in the viewers’ minds. The more the frequency of viewers hearing a word, name or phrase the more the chances of remembrance. In both promotions, he advertisers are at liberty to use humor so as to ameliorate their ads (Nühnen, 2010).

Due to the need for capturing the attention and interest of the viewers, commercial and political promotions have become nearly a literary genre. Both uses the specialized language structures and language that often go away from standard forms. The grammatical structures of words or rather the syntax, used in both promotions may contain long or short lyrical sentences. Lengthy lyrical sentences are commonly used in old commercial and political advertisements. Such ads may also have complex but complete sentences. Though such promotions present a complete and comprehensive picture of the product, service or candidate, they however require more attention and thought on the viewers’ part. Some of the commercial and political advertisements may make use of phrases or fragmented sentences which can be easily accessed by the viewers (Cronin, 2010). However, such ads may not explain fully the nature and significance of the product or services. They may not also explain the position of the candidate in the case of political ads.

In both, there is no guarantee for success. Moreover, the campaign budgets for both are not directly related to the effectiveness of campaign. This is because different advertisers employ different strategies during the campaigns. There is also no assurance of success if the promotions were to be done with a lot of money at the expense of the campaigns. The intensity of campaigns also determines the success or failure of a commercial or political promotion.

Both are purposeful. Before creating a political or a commercial advert, the creators have to sit down and define the specific purpose(s) of the advertisement. A specific focus is needed to accomplish the overall goal of the advertisement. For commercial promotions, the purpose is to win the minds of the consumers into purchasing a product or service whereas political promotions purpose to win the votes from the electorate (Stoklossa & Rempen, 2007).

Another common feature of political and commercial promotions is the fact that both are targeted. The advertisements are aimed toward a specific market. In both cases, the population that is likely to purchase the service, product or vote a candidate-for political ads- is identified and a strong and persuasive campaign is directed towards them. In other words, both are geared to address the ever changing needs, wants and values of the viewers.

The use of claims is a common feature to both political and commercial promotions. Both promote certain aspects or make several claims about what a service, product or an aspiring political candidate can do or offer the customers and the general public. Such claims have in proved to provide satisfactory results by educating, informing as well as creating expectations in the viewers (Trent et al., 2011). For commercial promotions, claims can simply use hype or state facts, e.g. calling a single brand of mango juice ‘the best’ when it is nutritionally identical to other forms of brands. For political advertisements, claims can mislead the viewers through omission. It may also mislead through the use of subtle modifiers of statements which can make the statements meaningless if critically scrutinized. Such faint statement modifiers are normally referred by political campaigners as “weasel words”. Lastly, both commercial and political promotions associate the product or person being promoted with a famous company or renowned politician respectively. Such association creates a powerful psychological connection in the viewers. It also encourages emotional responses in them, which is then linked to what is being advertised, hence making the ads more attractive through transference.

In conclusion, commercial and political advertisements are presently around us. Political advertising has attained greater significance in campaigns for various political offices. This is because advertising, unlike most communication channels, helps the candidates in reaching the unmotivated and uninterested citizens. On the other hand commercial advertisements are never to be left behind. They comprise the largest portion of all forms of advertising. Due to the increase in number of business entities, commercial promotions run across the media with every advertiser aiming at getting the top notch position. It is also important to note that neither political nor commercial promotion can be successful. The success of a promotion relies heavily on the strategic measure s employed by the advertisers. The measures could be in form of financial and non-financial techniques necessary to carryout campaigns for a specific advertisement. However, the emergence of mass media reduced the enthusiasm for commercial and political advertising targeting individuals. Political advertising was influenced after the segmentation of markets was introduced into the sector of commercial advertising. This has led to development of psychographic form of marketing that relies heavily on combination of psychological and demographic information to develop a market segment that is homogenous in nature.


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Cronin, M. (2010). Advertising, commercial spaces and the urban. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Diamond, E., & Bates, S. (1992). The spot: the rise of political advertising on television. Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press.

Kaid, L., & Holtz-bacha, C. (2006). The SAGE handbook of political advertising. Thousand Oaks, Calif, SAGE Publications.

Mailer, N. (1992). Advertisements for myself. Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press.

Nikoltchev, S. (2005). Political debate and the role of the media: the fragility of free speech.

Nühnen, V. (2010). Conceptual Blending in Advertisements. München, GRIN Verlag GmbH.

Stoklossa, U., & Rempen, T. (2007). Advertising: new techniques for visual seduction. London, Thames & Hudson.

Strasbourg, Council of Europe Publ.

Trent, S., Friedenberg, V., & Denton, E. (2011). Political campaign communication: principles and practices. Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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