PERHAPS we should be relieved that television doesn't have...

salmagundi

November 18, 1992

PERHAPS we should be relieved that television doesn't have as big an effect on our thinking as we seem to think it does.

The issue of "Advertising Age" published the day before Election Day predicted that if television ads were the key factor in rounding up the peoples' votes, we'd be saying President-elect Perot today.

The $30 million-plus that H. Ross Perot spent on television ads may have not gotten him elected, but he'll be remembered. According to a survey for "Advertising Age" conducted by the Gallup Organization, the Perot ads were "the most memorable and influential." His 30-second ad with a voice-over reading details about the budget deficit was the best-recalled ad of the campaign. Overall, the survey concluded that the Perot ads beat any of those by George Bush or Bill Clinton by a margin of 2-1.

Of the 752 registered voters who took part in this telephone survey, only 20 percent were planning to vote for Mr. Perot. Close to 60 percent of all those surveyed claimed the ads had no effect on their decisions. This is consistent with past findings that political advertising tends to strengthen preconceived opinions, not change minds.

So while some Americans took these political ads seriously, most of us apparently decided to enjoy them for their entertainment value. Given the millions of dollars candidates spent on them, however, maybe future presidential aspirants ought to re-think this questionable strategy.

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