THE 30 SECOND CANDIDATE HISTORICAL TIMELINEFROM IDEA TO ADTRICKS OF THE TRADEQ_AND_ATHE TELEVISION PROGRAM
Wisconsin Public Television
     

 
 
Shooting a political ad starts the transformation of ideas into images. To keep viewers engaged, television advertising needs to communicate visually. Slogans and scripted words work only on one level of perception. Think of how often you see a flag in political ads. Here the candidate wants to build associations between him or herself and the patriotic feelings brought on by waving the flag. But this is only the most obvious example.

Rosser Reeves
full screen view
of this document

(large images)
For "Eisenhower Answers America," Rosser Reeves filmed Eisenhower in an empty studio. Visually there is very little to distract viewers, no flags or symbols of power. But Eisenhower is filmed from a slightly low angle, meaning we look up at him. The voters asking questions are filmed looking up as though addressing someone of enormous stature. Eisenhower is always seen alone, he doesn't share the frame with his questioners. In fact, the questioners never actually spoke with Ike, they were filmed later. Reeves recruited tourists at Radio City Music Hall and had them ask scripted questions in the studio a few days after Eisenhower was filmed.
While some Republican leaders worried that appearing in a commercial would diminish Eisenhower's stature, in the ad his stature is visually enhanced. At the same time the candidate is seen relating to everyday people, and offering memorable solutions to their problems. At times, however, Eisenhower seems a little wide-eyed and unfocused, probably because Reeves didn't want him to wear his glasses and he is struggling to make out large cue cards. Ike is said to have moaned, "To think an old soldier should come to this..."

previousnext

PBS Online

© 1998-2001 Wisconsin Public Television, All rights reserved.