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Air Wars

Air Wars
Television Advertising and Social Media in Election Campaigns, 1952-2012

Sixth Edition

March 2013 | 224 pages | CQ Press
Tracing the evolution of political advertising from 1952 through the 2012 elections, Darrell M. West returns with his much anticipated sixth edition of Air Wars. Integrating the latest data and key events from the 2012 campaigns, West provides in-depth examination and insight into how candidates plan and execute advertising campaigns, how the media covers these campaigns, and how American voters are ultimately influenced by them. Taking into account technological advances, West now includes discussion of how campaigns are utilizing social media tools to reach audiences and to what effect.

The sixth edition offers significant updates, including:

- The face-off between Obama and Romney in the general election;

- Case studies of ads during presidential and Congressional campaigns;

- The ever increasing use and impact of social media;

- Ad stills from the 2012 campaign; and

- Concrete examples of which ads worked and which ads did not.


- A History in Pictures features an array of ad stills starting from Lyndon Johnson's shocking "Daisy" ad in 1964 to ads the Obama and Romney campaigns hurl at each other in 2012.

- An Appendix of Memorable Ads, 1984–2012, lets students read through and analyze narrated comments.

- An overview chapter outlines advertising principles as well as how ads are put together and financed.

- Conclusion sections at the end of chapters summarize key takeaway points.

Television Advertising in Election Campaigns: A History in Pictures
1. Overview of Ads
2. Buying Air Time
3. Ad Messages
4. Media Coverage of Ads
5. Learning About the Candidates
6. Setting the Agenda
7. Priming and Defusing
8. Playing the Blame Game
9. Ads in Congressional Elections
10. Advertising and Democratic Elections
Appendix: Memorable Ads, 1984-2012

“My students enjoyed the book. Many of the historical ads West discussed in his text interested my students, with some even going online to view the older ads. The book does a good job explaining the major theories of political communication. After reading a few chapters of the text, my students better understood priming and agenda setting. They also began to think more about how ads affect the American public.”

Heather Evans
Sam Houston State University

“West does an excellent job of providing breadth as well as details in Air Wars. My students especially respond to various concepts he develops including demonization, association, stereotyping, and code words. This allows them to apply concepts to specific ads from the last several decades. His in-depth examination of various contexts in which ads surface allows students to understand ad meanings and effects.”

Farida Jalalzai
University of Missouri-St. Louis

It occasionally happens that the umpteenth remake of a book is simply a carbon copy of the previous versions. Not so with this beautiful work... Pioneer research in communication policy, [the author] has rigorously reviewed and updated the text.... a rich exhibition, full of notes and effective insights.

Ferdinando Fasce
Ricerche di Storia Politica

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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Darrell M. West

Darrell M. West is the Vice President of Governance Studies and Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He is the author of 22 books, including Megachange: Economic Disruption, Political Upheaval, and Social Strife in the 21st Century and Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust. More About Author

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ISBN: 9781452239910