Mayoral candidates target voters' TVs

VIDEO: Mayoral candidates target voters' TVs

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - With Charleston's mayoral election only a few weeks away, three of the six candidates are targeting voters' TVs: Ginny Deerin, Leon Stavrinakis and John Tecklenburg.

One local political expert shared insight on the candidates' television strategy.

"There's biographical ads where you're really trying to tell your story," Gibbs Knotts said.

Knotts is a professor and chair of political science at College of Charleston.

Ginny Deerin's "Wings for Kids" ad is a good example of a biographical message, according to Knotts.

"The Wings for Kids is probably her signature initiative, the thing that she points to that she's devoted her life to. So I think it's smart and it makes sense
to have that be a key feature of that ad."

Another biographic ad by John Tecklenburg touts the candidate's business background. Tecklenburg also has a lighthearted TV spot that plays on the pronunciation of his last name.

"You might go to the water cooler and mention to somebody, 'Oh, did you seen that Tecklenburg ad?'" Knotts said. "It kind of sticks in your head."

Such is the type of name recognition politicians are looking for, he explained. Knotts said similar strategy occurs for national campaigns like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The smaller voter turnout for local elections means name recognition is all the important, according to Knotts.

"For these local candidates, they've got to make sure they can get as many people as possible to know who they are," Knotts said. "There's also issue ads where you talk about the key issues. For Stavrinakis, he's talked about his experience, his plan, his connections."

The current ads also touch on candidates' transportation plans, a central focus for the race. Knotts said voters should still fact-check what they hear from campaigns.

"Politicians have been known to put stuff in ads that isn't necessarily true, or is at least a stretch of the truth or one perception of the truth," Knotts said. The political expert also said research is divided on whether attack ads help or hurt candidates, in the eye of voters.

"The only thing folks feel pretty confident in saying is that you tend to remember attack ads a little bit more. They do tend to stick with you," Knotts said. "Charleston really prides itself on a being a polite city. That was always Mayor Riley's message. I'm curious to see how the public responds to a negative ad here in Charleston for this historic race."

Regardless of whether voters are watching campaign messages on TV, Knotts said the advertising reach extends beyond a single screen, in the age of social media and Youtube.

"A television ad has more of a life beyond just when it shows up for 30 seconds on a television show. There's other ways for these ads to get out there," Knotts said.

He added that it's not too late for other candidates to roll out television ads, and he expects overall ad volume to increase as the Nov. 3 election nears. Maurice Washington's campaign also said the candidate will be airing his own ad in the weeks to come.

Stay tuned.

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