first political television commercials are thought to be those of William
Benton, Senator from Connecticut. Benton was a former advertising executive
who had been appointed to the Senate by Governor Chester Bowles, Benton's
former agency partner.
father, of course, coming out of the advertising business, was thinking
media," recalls Charles Benton, the late Senator's son, and head of
the Benton Foundation.
1950 few households had yet purchased a TV set,
so Benton came up with a unique innovation.
Small kiosks with rear-projection screens were set up in shopping centers
and street corners to continuously play the same campaign commercials
being broadcast on television. Benton won in a very close race.
Benton comments, "When you have a very close election, you don't know.
Any of these techniques could be attributed as being responsible. So
you take the three media points here, and did they make a 5000 vote
difference? They could have."
the Benton Foundation is dedicated to using communication technology
to improve democratic participation.