: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.
"A provocative and critical look at the history and practice of political advertising on television...using great vintage clips and pithy observations from an assortment of media and political analysts to explore this important subject."—John Haslett Cuff, The Globe and Mail
"Do we elect leaders or do we buy them? This in-depth documentary looks at how TV peddles political candidates the same way it sells soap and chewing gum."—Toronto Star