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Campaign Ads, Book Trailers, and Evolution

As Barack Obama rules the airwaves this evening, writers and publishers should ponder what television campaign ads can teach us about selling books.

The Museum of the Moving Image has a brilliant exhibit online entitled The Livingroom Candidate–allowing viewers to explore more than a half-century of presidential TV ads. Watching these ads evolve (and devolve, in some cases), might help us build a better book trailer.

For instance, this Nixon ad revolutionized the art of television advertisements with a couple toy soldiers. Someday soon, a bright writer will hit on that kind of powerful visual language–where is the book trailer’s answer to the infamous simplicity of Daisy Girl?

From David Schwartz, curator of the online exhibit: “In a media-saturated environment in which news, opinions, and entertainment surround us all day on our television sets, computers, and cell phones, the television commercial remains the one area where presidential candidates have complete control over their images.” (Via Errol Morris)

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