Directed by David Vainola • Documentary • 1996 • 51 minutes
:30 Second Democracy explores the disturbing relationship between political parties and the advertising industry during election campaigns. Through television advertising, techniques perfected to sell commercial products are readily applied to political candidates, turning elections into marketing exercises and voting into another consumer choice.
:30 Second Democracy is unique among explorations of this theme, providing a comparative history of political television advertising in the U.S., Britain and Canada which looks at how each of these countries has taken widely differing approaches to regulating political advertising on television, with very different results.
Included in the program are some of the most famous and infamous political ads of recent memory, from President Johnson's 'Daisy' ad in 1964, to the British Labour Party's Kinnock 'Biography' and the Canadian Liberal Party's Free Trade ad, to the controversial 'Willie Horton' ad of the 1988 U.S. Presidential campaign. Complementing the ads are interviews with some of the highest profile admakers and analysts of political ads in the world.