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This chapter, stating that visual persuasion is an important feature of election campaigning, focuses on visual appeals in posters and spot ads by national parties in the 2014 European elections. It (a) describes to what extent and how different visual appeals were used and (b) examines the impact of political culture in member countries and political parties on visual strategies. The results show a widespread use of visual appeals in both posters and commercials throughout Europe. Party leaders, candidates and common people are often depicted, likewise national and European symbols. Although an Eastern European as well as a Eurosceptic visual style may be discernable, the findings overall point to a common visual campaigning culture in the EU.
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The analysis in this chapter only includes posters and spot ads in national political campaigns produced by parties (or party coalitions). Posters and ads of personal campaigns produced by candidates, sometimes campaigning only in subnational constituencies, are excluded. Spot ads refer mainly to spots aired on television, but some spots were only published on the Internet due to restrictions of political advertising in some countries.
Of the 694 visual posters, 87 percent employed photographic images while 23 percent relied on drawings of different kinds.
Regarding the non-smiling category, two original categories were merged: serious/worried/angry, and neutral.
Textual posters are excluded, but text-dominated ads are included as these may include images.
Restricting the 2014 data to include only spots that were produced in the 10 countries examined by Kaid et al. in the 2009 campaign yields the same trend (32 percent of these spots lacked national as well as European symbols).
This trend is even stronger when comparing spots from 2009 and 2014 aired only in the 10 countries included in the analysis by Kaid et al. (For 2014, 29 percent of spots contained only national symbols.)
The trend towards a greater use of national visual symbols is even more evident when comparing spots from 2009 and 2014 broadcasted only in the 10 countries examined by Kaid et al. (For 2014, 61 percent of spots contained national symbols.)
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- Persuading Beyond Words: Visual Appeals in the 2014 European Election Campaign
- Palgrave Macmillan UK