Landmark Study on Political Ads Launched



“Spin and Sell: How Political Ads Shaped the 2004 Elections” was launched on November 5, 2004 in a forum that guests described as animated and stimulating. It brought to fore issues that cry for reform, from campaign financing to media integrity.

The book is a landmark study, the first extensive and in-depth research on the impact of political ads. The May 2004 election marked the first time after Marcos that political ads were used in a presidential election. It showed how these can be effective weapons in the candidates’ arsenals. Never before had we seen the extensive use of television in selling candidates.

Spin and Sell tackles the novelty of the phenomenon, its impact on the public, and draws insights and lessons from the experience.

Written by Glenda Gloria, managing editor of NEWSBREAK, Ana Tabunda, executive director of Pulse Asia, and Carmela Fonbuena, staff writer of NEWSBREAK, it blends journalism and social science.

The Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF), NEWSBREAK, Pulse Asia, and the Foundation for Communication Initiatives, published the book. Spin and Sell stands as a solid record of a facet of Philippine elections.

ANC anchorperson David Celdran thoughtfully moderated the forum. After authors Tabunda and Gloria presented the book’s findings, members of a panel shared their reactions. CNN’s Maria Ressa considers the book “good news,” since it shows that voters can be discerning and do not rely completely on political ads in choosing their candidates.

For Howie Severino, a reporter of GMA-7, one of the most compelling parts of the book is the revelation that candidates—from president to senator—violated the Fair Elections Act. They exceeded the prescribed time for TV ads. “The law was blatantly violated by people who wanted to make laws,” Severino said.

Policy analyst Mario Taguiwalo recommends containing “total costs of elections while providing voters with ample information to decide…” He explains: “The best focus of any regulatory public policy must be on the levels and sources of campaign financing.”

Reforming the political party system and the media are among the key points Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the constitutional amendments committee, raised. In a lively talk, Gordon recalled his experiences on the campaign trail where he saw how celebrity won over performance. Despite his long years in public service, he said he was little known in the countryside. Candidates therefore had to sell themselves through ads that were low in substance but high on pizzazz.

The open forum that followed tackled a range of subjects that, in the end, showed the audience’s deep interest in an improved election climate in 2007. As Klaus Preschle, country representative of the KAF, said, the book contributes to the debate on media, elections and political ads and “promotes freer and fairer elections.”

Note: Please visit the Publications page to view complete text of the remarks of Mr. Klaus Preschle and comments of Prof. Mario Taguiwalo on the book.

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Ballroom 1 and 2, Mandarin Hotel, Makati City.


Klaus Preschle


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Auslandsbüro Philippinen