The Complete History of Daisy

How DDB and Lyndon Johnson Changed the Ad World

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Website Conelrad posted its story about the making of "Daisy," the most infamous political ad in U.S. history. The piece is simply fascinating. Students of advertising and politics alike should check it out immediately.

The letter from Bill Bernbach to Bill Moyers alone is worth the read. Here's a wee clip:

"We agreed that a very necessary part of the campaign is that part devoted to exposing to the voting public the absurd, contradictory and dangerous nature of the opposition candidate. It was agreed that this part of the campaign should be undertaken immediately following our Convention. It is already apparent that Barry Goldwater is making every effort to adjust his extreme position to one more acceptable. Knowing the short memory of the average person, it is entirely possible he might succeed in creating a new character for himself if we are unable to remind people of the truth about this man."

DDB, which created "Daisy", broke new ground in political TV advertising during that election cycle. Check out this spot, which would seem to be the first ad to target those women known today as "soccer moms."

This exhaustive article even includes a detailed look at the men behind the ad (Sid Myers, Stanley R. Lee, Aaron Ehrlich, Tony Schwartz).

Even Ad Age makes an appearance:

"In a story datelined Washington, Sept. 4, the industry trade Advertising Age was the first publication to reveal when the Democrats would unleash their inaugural spot of the formal campaign season. ... The Advertising Age piece did not disclose the title or the content of the ad that would be unveiled on September 7th, but the reporting did convey some information surrounding the types of ads being produced on behalf of the Johnson campaign."

Ad Age wrote at the time: "Democrats are edgy about some of the stories which came out of the Atlantic City convention; these stories charged that some exceedingly hard-hitting material has been produced by their agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach Inc. They claim all these reports are based on nothing more than hearsay, and they suggest that the really dirty tactics will be coming from the GOP."

Here's the finished product for those who want to jog their memory.