History of Political Voice Over
Over the last 5 decades or so the political voice over has been an intricate part of the political landscape. We find ourselves bombarded with political advertisements on the radio and television during every major election cycle. The modern media already keeps us up to date moment by moment with the latest “he said-she said” commentary, but that is evidently not sufficient enough. Political voice overs play an essential role in most campaign advertising because it is a sure-fire way to touch the emotional nerve center of the populous. As we explore the history of political voice over we will see that some things have changed, but many are still the same.
50+ Years Ago
A little over 50 years ago the world was on the verge of nuclear war. The United States and Russia locked horns over missiles in Cuba and the entire world held its breath. In the end, nuclear war was averted and in November 1963, United States President John Kennedy was assassinated. The following year President Lyndon Johnson began his reelection bid. The world was still a tense place to live and the country sought stability in the next president. Republican nominee Senator Barry Goldwater was considered to be a loose cannon and many feared he might escalate tensions. President Johnson would have to use effective political voice over to demonstrate the dangers of a Goldwater presidency.
The Johnson campaign ran political voice overs focused on portraying Goldwater as a warmonger that would destroy the opportunity for peace and provoke a nuclear confrontation. Goldwater had voted against the recent nuclear treaty and the democratic campaign wanted everyone to know it. The campaign relied on excellent voice talent and production to paint their message clearly. These ads were extremely effective and Lyndon Johnson retained his presidency.
The Present Era
Political voice overs have come a long way since those black & white ads many decades ago. Technology has made it possible to produce higher quality ads that reach out and touch the viewer. The voice talent is still excellent, but the distribution of that talent has not altered with the times. Women were used sparingly for voice over work back then. Although that has improved slightly, the usage is more about need than gender. Women are used for ads surrounding women topics, but men are used much more for traditional ads.
Political voice over ads today is focused on fear and insecurity; just as they were some 50 years ago. Only around 30% of the ads are of a positive nature. Candidates spend millions of dollars on these ads every campaign cycle. The debate over their effectiveness rages on, but political voice overs are not going away anytime soon.
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