Selling Candidates: The Promise and Limits of Political Ads

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After the pioneering book, Spin and Sell, a sequel, Selling Candidates: The Promise and Limits of Political Advertisements was recently launched.

Written by Ana Maria Tabunda, Carmela Fonbuena and Aries Rufo, the book discusses the political ads of the 2007 senatorial elections and how the media covered the 90-day campaign and election period.

In the launch held at the Hyatt Hotel in Manila, the book, published by Public Trust Media Group in cooperation with the Kondrad Adenauer Stiftung, was the take-off point for discussion by panelists from the media, politics, and advertising sector.

Losing senatorial candidate Prospero Pichay is an example that political ads are not enough to put one in the Senate. He said that reasons for his defeat include not having an organization, not being carried by the biggest religious groups, and the fact that he is not known nationwide.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano added that free media or publicity—meaning being covered by the press—is a more effective vehicle than political ads.

Yoly Villanueva Ong, president and CEO of Campaigns and Grey, said that image is not fabricated and a costume you put on. Rather, it is rather based on the truth.

Charie Villa, vice president for news gathering of ABS-CBN, said that people are now more discerning on who to vote for public office.

Against ad ban
The highlights of the book include a chapter written by Tabunda, Shifting Preferences: Image, Personality, and Political Party in the 2007 Senatorial Elections. She describes the contents of the political ads of both the Genuine Opposition (GO) and Team Unity (TU).

In another chapter, Tabunda concludes that three out of four voters are against a ban on political ads since these campaign materials are among the sources of information for the voters.

For her part, Carmela Fonbuena studied the communication strategies and plans behind the political ads. She enumerated four factors that affect the candidates’ chances of winning: political advertisements, news coverage, political legacy or political baggage and dagdag bawas or vote padding.

Aries Rufo, in his chapter, Hostaged by Spin and Gimmickry, discusses how the media covered the whole campaign and election period. -Stefanie Leuterio (

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