According to the Oxford English Dictionary, campaign was first conceptualized in the 16th century from the French term “campagne”, meaning an “open country” or “the field”.

The term campaign underwent changes over the centuries in meaning from first referring to a field, to denoting military operations, and then emerging in the 19th century English language to represent an organized political event to obtain votes (Campaign, 2015). The modern term of campaign, according to the Oxford English Dictionary,(Campaign, 2015) that can be applied in a general sense is “an organized attempt aimed at a definite result”.

Campaigns and Political Communication

Throughout the realm of political communication, the concept of campaign has gone through some transformations. Greenburg (1975) first looked at campaigns from a political perspective, examining the function of campaigns for voters prior to presidential elections. Current research is now relying less on solely the effects of campaigns, but the relationship between the media campaigns and interpersonal communication. Neiheisel & Niebler (2015) examined the combination of televised campaign ads as well as the interpersonal discussions that take place in an individual’s social environment. The scholars found that individuals with agreeable social networks are more likely to reinforce their candidate preferences and resist fluctuating their support to another candidate when exposed to ads that are compatible with with their initial choice for candidacy; however, disagreement in a social network actually limits the persuasive effect of dissonant political advertising (Neiheisel & Niebler, 2015, p. 447).

Strach, Zuber, Fowler, Ridout, & Searles (2015) examined the use of either men or women announcers for political campaign advertisements. The authors found that there is a connection between then voice used and the message being conveyed (woman voice for an issue perceived as feminine), however there was dissonance that occurred between the voice over chosen and the characteristics of the candidates sex and party affiliation. For example, women who are typically Democrats would be chosen to speak over for a male Republican candidate ad. This study shows that the campaign ads take more cognitive processing to understand how and why they are communicating their messages in such strategic fashions.

Campaigns and Rhetorical Studies

In rhetorical studies, the concept of campaigns has served as a means for examining how messages are framed for an audience. In 1971, Connelly examined the misconceptions of President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 campaign rhetoric. Johnson focused on making it clear he was aware of what the audience emotions were about topics (ie. Vietnam War) and framing his campaign speeches around those arousing topics. However, after the campaign and election, it was clear that the rhetoric of the speech did not match the actions Johnson pursued while in office, therefore, making it pertinent for candidates and speechwriters in the future to understand that it is not only important to be understood by their audience, but also make sure that they are not to be misunderstood by their audience (Connelly, 1971, p. 20).

Arbour (2014) compared the use of rhetoric in TV campaign ads as a primary form of communication between voters and campaigns of both Republican and Democratic House and Senate candidates to determine how message framing impacted the rhetoric of the candidates. Arbour (2014) found that partisan preferences of the candidate and of the voter helped to frame the issues, but also the ads are frame based on the typical political affiliation of the district to form their rhetorical strategies.

Campaigns and Health Communication

Campaigns have existed in a health context for decades, but Rogers (1996) asserted that “the field of health communication began to take off as a coherent intellectual enterprise” in 1971 with the emergence of a health communication campaign, the Stanford Heart Disease Prevention Program (p.16). This campaign to reduce heart disease among middle aged men set the stage for success in campaigns and provided four reasons as to why campaigns are an integral part of health communication:
a) Campaigns have a purpose
b) Campaigns aim to influence a large number of individuals
c) Campaigns have a specified amount of time, along with a precise schedule to execute the campaign
d) Campaigns involve and organized set of communication activities
(Rogers, 1996)

Health campaigns today focus on a variety of health-related behaviors rom smoking cessation (Emery, Szczypka, Abril, Kim, & Vera, 2014) sexual health (Noar, Zimmerman, Palmgreen, Cupp, Floyd, & Mehrotra, 2014) intimate partner violence (Cismaru & Lavack, 2011), organ donation (Quick, Harrison, King, & Bosch, 2013), and childhood obesity (Price, Ferisi, Sharifi, Steinberg, Bennett, Wolin, & Taveras, 2015).

As new technologies continue to emerge and advance, it is common to integrate technology into campaigns. Rogers (1996) recognized the role that technology would play in health communication through its interactive capabilities back when only a third of the United States had home computers. Price et al. (2015) studied the role of using a text-messaging system to aid in the health coaching process for parents whose children are trying to combat obesity. The text messaging system sending a couple messages a week not only saw engagement on the part of the parent who received the message, but also a dynamic process occurred with further questions being sent to back to the health coach via texts (Price et al., 2015).

Ahn (2015) also encompassed new technology into a health promotion campaign for the reduction in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages related to the health issue of obesity. Immersive virtual environments, “digital devices that stimulate multiple layers of sensory information so that users are able to hear, see, and feel as if they are in the real world” (Ahn, 2015, p. 545), accompanied by traditional campaign mediums (pamphlets) was found to be the most successful way to for individuals to feel personally involved and at risk of gaining weight from the sugar laden beverages, therefore enacting behavioral intentions to quit or cut back on drinks like soda.

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Ahn, S.J. (2015) Incorporating immersive virtual environments in health promotion campaigns: A construal level theory approach

Arbour, B. (2014). Issue frame ownership: The partisan roots of campaign rhetoric. Political Communication, 31(4), 604-627.

campaign. (1989). In Oxford English Dictionary online. Retrieved from

Cismaru, M., & Lavack, A. M. (2011). Campaigns targeting perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 12(4), 183-197.

Connelly, F. J. (1971). Some questions concerning Lyndon Johnson's rhetoric in the 1964 presidential campaign. Southern Speech Communication Journal, 37(1), 11-20.

Emery, S. L., Szczypka, G., Abril, E. P., Kim, Y., & Vera, L. (2014). Are you scared yet? evaluating fear appeal messages in tweets about the tips campaign. Journal of Communication, 64(2), 278-295.

Greenberg, B. S. (1965). Voting intentions, election expectations and exposure to campaign information. Journal Of Communication, 15, 149-160.

Neiheisel, J. R. & Niebler, S. (2015) On the limits of persuasion: Campaign ads and the structure of voters’ interpersonal discussion networks. Political Communication, 32(3), 434-452

Noar, S. M., Myrick, J. G., Zeitany, A., Kelley, D., Morales-Pico, B., & Thomas, N. E. (2015). Testing a social cognitive theory-based model of indoor tanning: implications for skin cancer prevention messages. Health Communication, 30(2), 164-174.

Noar, S. M., Zimmerman, R. S., Palmgreen, P., Cupp, P. K., Floyd, B. R., & Mehrotra, P. (2014). Development and implementation of mass media campaigns to delay sexual initiation among african american and white youth. Journal Of Health Communication, 19(2), 152-169.

Price, S., Ferisin, S., Sharifi, M., Steinberg, D., Bennett, G., Wolin, K. Y., & Taveras, E. M. (2015). Development and implementation of an interactive text messaging campaign to support behavior change in a childhood obesity randomized controlled trial. Journal Of Health Communication, 20(7), 843-850.

Quick, B., Harrison, T. R., King, A. J., & Bosch, D. (2013). It's up to you: a multi-message, phased driver facility campaign to increase organ donation registration rates in Illinois. Clinical Transplantation, 27(5), E546-E553.

Rogers, E. M. (1996). Up-to date report. Journal of Health Communication,1J, (15-23).

Strach, P., Zuber, K., Fowler, E. F., Ridout, T. N., & Searles, K. (2015). In a different voice? Explaining the use of men and women as voice-over announcers in political advertising. Political Communication, 32(2), 183-205.