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PACKAGING THE PRESIDENCY A History and Criticism of Presidential Campaign Advertising by Kathleen Hall Jamieson (Oxford University Press: $12.95)

September 25, 1988|ELENA BRUNET

"I'll be darned if anyone is going to talk me into making any idiotic promises or hints about elect-me- and-I-will-cut-your-taxes-by- such-and-such-a-date," Dwight Eisenhower told his campaign aides during his 1952 bid for the presidency against Adlai Stevenson. But by September, 1952, under pressure from adman Rosser Reeves, Ike duly read his lines: "Yes. We will work to cut billions in Washington spending and bring your taxes down." Between takes, Kathleen Hall Jamieson writes, " Eisenhower shook his head and muttered, 'To think that an old soldier should come to this.' But come to it he had," and that was only the beginning of the rise of media strategists.

In "Packaging the Presidency," Jamieson examines every presidential campaign from 1952 to 1980. She analyzes print, radio and television advertising and shows how tactics have changed from the half-hour broadcast speech to the 15-second sound byte. As George Ball, a member of Adlai Stevenson's 1952 campaign staff, "bitterly but presciently predicted, 'presidential campaigns would have professional actors as candidates.' " With results we know.

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