The referendum ad by Chen Chi-mai (upper-left), similar ads by legislator Chiu Yi-ying (upper-right) and DPP Taichung mayoral candidate Tsai Shih-ying, and the original plumbing ad by Chen Cai-you (bottom-right). Photo credit: 登真-邱議瑩/Facebook
One case in point was the advertising campaign for the referendum to lower the voting age to 18 from the current 20 years old run by the DPP. This began in Kaohsiung with an ad featuring a photo of mayor Chen Chi-mai when he was 18. The ad was done in the iconic style of plumber Chen Cai-you, whose distinctive advertisements featuring a photo of himself when young appear frequently on billboards in Taiwan. After Chen Chi-mai put up the ad, subsequently, other pan-Green politicians began posting billboards in the same style featuring photos of themselves while 18.
Lai Pin-yu cosplaying as Yor, Tseng Wen-hsueh as Loid, and Huang Jie as Anya from SPY x Family. Photo credit: 總一 Souichi Cosplay/Facebook
By contrast, the KMT has not leaned heavily into campaigning for the referendum to lower the voting age, likely because of the fact that younger voters tend to side with the pan-Green camp, and are reluctant to vote for the KMT because of its pro-China stance.
The image with which Cheng Yun-peng announced his candidacy for Taoyuan mayor (top-left), campaign car in the colors of EVA-01 from Evangelion (top-right), featuring an Iron Man Infinity Gauntlet (bottom-left), and drawing on the character designs of Shakurel Planet (bottom left). Photo credit: 鄭運鵬/Facebook and 鄭運鵬臉書服務處/Facebook
That being said, the KMT was probably most inventive in campaign rallies around the time of its protests against the DPP’s lifting of the longstanding ban in Taiwan on imports of ractopamine-treated pork from the US. When demonstrating the issue, the KMT brought up a large variety of inventive pig-shaped floats, the largest of which featured a pair of sunglasses and was displayed outside the KMT party headquarters when not in use.
The KMT’s pig floats. Photo credit: 中國國民黨/Facebook
The aesthetics of campaigning, of course, prove a means of political signaling. Political parties in Taiwan largely want to appear as though they have the support of young people, rather than to come off as only having aged supporters. This explains the willingness of the DPP to embrace creative, experimental aesthetics in campaigning, while the KMT–which only had less than 9,000 members under 40 two years ago–has generally been more restrained. Yet to what extent campaign aesthetics affects actual electoral outcomes still remains to be seen.