A MAELSTROM of campaign advertisements for that precious vote.

Long before the campaign period officially kicked off last February 9, candidates had already been bombarding Filipino voters with just about every campaign material you could think of: TV and print ads, jingles, baller IDs, shirts, stickers.

How these ads will actually work for specific candidates will have to wait till May 10.

Christie Que, head of the school’s advertising arts department, says public relations (PR) and advertising go hand-in-hand on matters like political campaigns with one goal in mind—to familiarize the public with a certain candidate.

“The PR is the strategist while the advertiser is in charge of the printed or visual output,” she says, meaning the PR person basically “dresses up” the image of politicians by using marketing plans and briefs, while the advertiser recommends the appropriate medium.

Jose Arsenio Salandanan, chair of the media studies department, argues that if advertisements can sell a product, they can sell politicians, too. As dictated by the basics of advertising, the positioning and credibility of the candidate is also important in ensuring maximum effectiveness.

“You have to position yourself as a candidate so that you can be differentiated from your opponent,” he explains.

“What is your proposition? And next, how do you make that proposition credible? Just like when we advertise a product, there ought to be benefits. We buy a product based on its promises. This also holds true for politicians.”

TV still best

Despite the expanded platform made available by the so-called new media, television remains the favorite choice for those running for public office. Given that TV remains a fixture in every Filipino household, the audio and visual register of the commercial jingles, celebrity endorsers, “identity” colors and even ballot numbers are vital in ensuring that political ads stick to viewers.

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Consummatum est

Republic Act No. 9006 or the Fair Elections Act limits TV ads to 120 minutes and radio ads to 180 minutes. Because of this, Que says timing is important.

“One presidential candidate made himself known to the public even before the campaigning period has officially started,” she notes. “This made campaigning easier for him when he revealed his intentions of running for national office.”

New media

Effective advertising also involves knowing how to adapt to changes in technology. Not surprisingly, political ads have been flooding the Internet.

“New media (Internet) is a lot cheaper and faster,” says Que. “The market will be the younger generation since this is the type of media that they’re using.”

Apart from the official websites, candidates also utilize social networking sites such as Facebook, with official and unofficial accounts and fan pages supporting their cause.

“I think it’s a nice tactic to let people know the different individuals who will engage in the tiring effort to win the polls in the coming elections,” says Adrian Belmonte, a Rehabilitation Sciences student. “The use of social networking sites in making themselves known is more effective than radio or television.”

But for some, political advertisements in the Internet are an overkill.

“We’ve seen enough of them on posters, TV, etc. And now politicians won’t even spare Facebook?” says Gem Leonard Boy, a Fine Arts student.

He says that with the politicians’ assiduous appearance, they tend to give the feeling of brainwashing rather than campaigning.

Cyberspace has changed the way political campaigns are run. But in the end, a wise voter will not be distracted and will choose a candidate based on meritocracy. Marnee A. Gamboa and Alma Maria L. Sarmiento

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