Political Tactics in Mainstream Media

by Susanne Siebel


In today’s world of advertisement, major name brands are taking the low road, bashing their competition in order to make their products seem better than everyone else’s.  Instead of highlighting their product’s own strengths,  these companies focus on the faults, flaws, and weaknesses of their competitors.  Rarely do these advertisements rely on fact alone, but rather exaggerate by painting biased pictures and making outrageous claims.

However, when we’re exposed to so much trash-talking, how can we  determine which products are actually best?

This tactic has been associated with politicians who try to convince the public that his opponent is corrupt and unqualified (morally or experientially) to hold office. It seems as though every politician has used this in his campaign, and unfortunately the candidate that is better at digging up dirt usually wins the election. For example, during the 2009 New Jersey Governor election, state-elected Governor Chris Christie’s campaign included a commercial about former Governor Jon Corzine.  It criticized his stance on abortion, emotionally appealing to viewers and painting a barbaric picture of Corzine.

This age-old tradition of politics has transferred into commercial advertising.  Competitor campaigns have waged battles such as Verizon Wireless vs. AT&T and Mac vs. PC  by utilizing comparisons to sell products.  In  doing so, they are destroying their competition.


One of the most publically recognized comparisons are Apple’s Mac commercials. In these advertisements, Justin Long is representing Mac as a cool, reliable, computer system.   A pudgy, frumpy John Hodgman represents the old, un-reliable PC computer system. In these commercials, Mac always has a better answer to the problems PC computers have.  To the consumer, the obvious choice is the Mac. On the flip side, PC commercials star average people who have a problem with their PC. The companies fix the problems and show the customer that it works just as good as any other competitor, and that they serve the “Average Joe.”

AT&T VS Verizon

Another battle in the advertising world is between Verizon Wireless and AT&T. These wireless providers are the two most popular in the United States. Therefore, their rivalry is among the most intense. Verizon began to produce advertisements with cell phone coverage maps of the country. Their map is almost entirely full, while the AT&T map is less than stellar. In response to these attacks, AT&T hired actor Luke Wilson to represent the company. He explains that AT&T has just as much coverage as Verizon.  Additionally, he explains that AT&T can download media faster than Verizon, allowing consumers to talk on the phone while using the internet.

The competition between consumer products has increased over the years, particularly in part to the major advances made by various technology companies. However, they haven’t been as classy.  So take it from me: stop bashing those around you and look to the inside.  Prove how good you are by being the best quietly; don’t point out the faults of others.  Letting your work show for yourself can make the world of difference.


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