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A Functional Approach to Political Advertising
Unformatted Document Text:  5 Based on a content analysis of political advertisements aired from 1960 to 1988, Kaid and Johnston (1991) reported that 71 percent of the ads were positive and only 19 percent were negative. Adopting themes as coding units (instead of whole ad), Benoit (1999) found that candidates emphasized policy (67%) over character (33%) based on content analysis of political advertisements from 1980 to 1996. When attacked, a candidate can comment and refute what is said by an opponent. Garramone (1985) suggests that the rebuttal is an effective tool for lowering the evaluation of the candidate who initiated the attack. Functions of Political Campaign Discourse According to the functional theory of campaign discourse, political advertising has three basic functions: acclaim, attack, and defense (Benoit, 1999). Each function contributes to the eventual goal of earning sufficient votes to win the election. There are only three ways for candidates to persuade voters to vote for them and against their opponents (Benoit, Pier & Blaney, 1997). First, a candidate can acclaim. The better a candidate for office appears, the more likely that candidate will earn votes. For example, Lee, the incumbent party candidate, acclaimed his past deeds by stating that he served for the government for his lifetime. Kim, the challenger party candidate, also acclaimed that he supported the bill that helped more students to study at the college. Without mentioning the opponents, these advertisements emphasize the positive qualities of the candidates. Second, a candidate can attack his or her challengers. To the extent a challenger appears less desirable, the attacking candidate seems to be more desirable. For example,

Authors: Lee, Cheolhan. and Choi, Yun Jung.
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5
Based on a content analysis of political advertisements aired from 1960 to 1988, Kaid
and Johnston (1991) reported that 71 percent of the ads were positive and only 19 percent
were negative.
Adopting themes as coding units (instead of whole ad), Benoit (1999) found that
candidates emphasized policy (67%) over character (33%) based on content analysis of
political advertisements from 1980 to 1996. When attacked, a candidate can comment
and refute what is said by an opponent. Garramone (1985) suggests that the rebuttal is an
effective tool for lowering the evaluation of the candidate who initiated the attack.
Functions of Political Campaign Discourse
According to the functional theory of campaign discourse, political advertising
has three basic functions: acclaim, attack, and defense (Benoit, 1999). Each function
contributes to the eventual goal of earning sufficient votes to win the election.
There are only three ways for candidates to persuade voters to vote for them and
against their opponents (Benoit, Pier & Blaney, 1997). First, a candidate can acclaim.
The better a candidate for office appears, the more likely that candidate will earn votes.
For example, Lee, the incumbent party candidate, acclaimed his past deeds by stating that
he served for the government for his lifetime. Kim, the challenger party candidate, also
acclaimed that he supported the bill that helped more students to study at the college.
Without mentioning the opponents, these advertisements emphasize the positive qualities
of the candidates.
Second, a candidate can attack his or her challengers. To the extent a challenger
appears less desirable, the attacking candidate seems to be more desirable. For example,


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