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Can someone please help me understand the content for the following homework assignment?

For this discussion, you will analyze presidential campaign advertising for peripheral persuasion content.

  • Visit the Living Room Candidate website listed below, and select a year prior to 2000 (http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/)
  • Review the ads for that year, and select one ad for each major candidate to discuss in your post (scroll down within a year to see the ads for each side)
  • For each ad, identify which peripheral methods were used in the ad, and explain specifically how they were used.

Expert Answers

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In the 1980 Presidential election between incumbent President Carter and his challenge, Republican California Governor Ronald Reagan, the peripheral persuasion method can be seen in two distinct advertisements. One demonstration is in Carter's ad against Reagan entitled "Flipflop."  In the advertisement, Carter's stand against worldwide nuclear proliferation is cast against the position that Reagan holds.  The peripheral persuasion method is evident in how the advertisement pulls from a Reagan speech soundbite.  It is a small soundbite, not thoroughly detailed and devoid of context.  Yet, the advertisement represents the peripheral persuasion method in how it uses source expertise.  The soundbite is the source.  Invoking the "flip flop"  concept and applying it to Reagan on the campaign trail also represents peripheral persuasion because it banks on how the listener will not actively research the point of contention.  In its suggestion that "Candidates must speak with complete accuracy and "Which Reagan are we to believe?" there is an appeal to peripheral persuasion.  The aspiration of the advertisement is that the listener or viewer will simply rely on the message being conveyed: Reagan is a flip flopper on the issue of worldwide nuclear proliferation.

President Reagan's team demonstrated the same intensity regarding peripheral persuasion in attempting to link the crisis in Iran with the incumbent President.  Given the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran by Iranian student fundamentalists, the Reagan team used peripheral persuasion in its advertisement, "The Ayatollah Votes."  Being able to identify an Iranian official as "The smoothest of Iran's diplomatic criminals," the ad seeks to make the case that the Ayatollah would not want Reagan as American President.  The ad suggests that the Ayatollah "prefers a weak and manageable U.S President."  Peripheral persuasion is evident in how the creators of the advertisement work on the fears of the American public.  The invocation of the Ayatollah's preference in the election helps to make the listener not even want to further investigate the issue.  The ad uses the Ayatollah as the embodiment of Americans' worst fears, seeking the listener to take a "short cut" in active participation and research based analysis.  Peripheral persuasion occurs "when the auditor is unable or unwilling to engage in much thought on the message."  Using the fear Americans had of the Ayatollah, there is a hopeful unwilligness "to engage in much thought on the message."  Additionally, the appeal to source credibility can be seen in the opening lines of the advertisement: "In a copyrighted story in the New York Times on October 27th."  Being able to invoke the "high" standard of the New York Times helps to give the advertisement the peripheral persuasion method of source credibility.  The listener can be assured that what is said is valid because it came from a "copyrighted story in the New York Times."  The date of October 27 is also significant because it is so close to the election, almost seeming to convey that the Ayatollah and his advisers are eagerly watching the election.  This helps to convey peripheral persuasion by once again removing the element of engagement, and banking on fear of the Ayatollah as a motivating force.

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