Monday, November 12, 2007

CONELRAD Revisits the Daisy Ad

To this day, the Democratic National Committee's 1964 “Daisy Ad" for LBJ is the most controversial political TV spot in history. No Advertising 101 class would be complete without showing the little girl counting flower petals juxtaposed with a mushroom cloud.

Given his escalation of the war in Vietnam, it’s ironic to see LBJ portrayed as a candidate of peace, but Barry Goldwater gave Johnson plenty of ammunition by publicly discussing the use of low-yield nuclear weapons against the Viet Cong. With just one paid airing, the ad achieved its objective – fairly or not – of casting Goldwater as an unbalanced loose cannon whose finger didn’t belong anywhere near The Button. The longtime Republican senator from Arizona was handily trounced in the 1964 election.

The Cold War obsessives over at CONELRAD have put together an engrossing history of the “Daisy” ad, from its conceptual genesis clear through to the (ahem) fallout that ensued after its one paid airing on September 7, 1964. There’s even an interview with the “Daisy” girl herself, Birgitte Olsen.

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