Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Daisy Ad, September 7, 1964

During the telecast of David & Bathsheba on the NBC Monday Night Movie, the most controversial presidential advertisment in the history of television and politics aired. Democratic incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson approved the campaign ads depicting a typical American girl in a field of daisies. As she plucks petals from the daisy, charmingly mis-counting to ten, the voice over begins to count down to a nuclear explosion, then visuals of a giant mushroom cloud. Johnson's voice-over begins "These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." Another voiceover then says, "Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home."

The public outcry was so great the the Johnson camp pulled the ad. It only aired once, but, despite the uproar, the advertisement is credited as the major factor in Johnson's defeat of Barry Goldwater. The campaign spot and coverage of it continued on television news programs for the remaining few weeks prior to the election.

It's effectiveness, despite the deplorable, desperate fear tactics and public protest, was not forgotten. In the 2006, the Bush campaign revived the ad's "These Are The Stakes" theme to promote democrats as soft on terror.

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