Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study examines the uses of televised political advertisements in campaign strategies in the United States and Canada. Two case studies--the Michigan gubernatorial election of 1994 and the Ontario provincial general election of 1995--serve as a basis for comparing the uses of televised political advertising in both countries.;Political strategists in Michigan and Ontario follow "meta-advertising strategies"--that is, television advertising which translates issues into symbols in order to build images. Issues are used in television advertising for five distinct purposes: (1) assigning blame (issue-blaming); (2) making accusations (issue-accusing); (3) claiming credit (issue-crediting); (4) mentioning the salience of an issue (issue-mentioning); (5) or taking an issue position (issue-positioning). When these issue modes are used in different combinations, three distinct types of televised political advertising may be identified--direct attack, comparative, and positive--each with different intended strategic effects.;The uses of televised political advertising in the Michigan and Ontario election campaigns displayed a high degree of similarity. In both, political strategists shared an essentially common approach to the construction of meta-advertising strategies; they tended to use similar, and in some cases identical, images and issues, and they tended to combine issues and images in the same way. There were, however, some key differences, the most important being that Ontario strategists relied more heavily on comparative television advertising. Such differences are explained by three factors: (1) the "mind-sets" of the respective strategists; (2) specific historical and contextual factors that are present in each election campaign; and (3) the effect of different legal and regulatory regimes on the construction of meta-advertising strategies.



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