It was 50 years ago today that the Lyndon Johnson campaign launched one of the most important political ads in American history. With all the subtlety of the atom bomb that co-starred in the spot, "Daisy" -- officially known as "Peace, Little Girl" -- portrayed opponent Barry Goldwater as a danger to the country; likely saved the Johnson team millions in extra ad spending; and showed other political campaigns the kind of destruction TV advertising could do by ushering in a new age of attack ads.
That's not to say that attack ads were new in American politics. Since our first elections, American political campaigns and their allies have been saying things so vile that today's campaigns pale in comparison. Thomas Jefferson's opponents at The Connecticut Courant said that if he were elected, "Murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will all be openly taught and practiced." Not to be outdone, Jefferson's side accused John Adams of being of a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."
But in 1964, TV political advertising was still in its infancy. What Americans had seen of national political spots in the previous presidential runs was rudimentary, lacked sophistication and failed to harness the full potential the medium had to offer. "Daisy," crafted by none other than the advertising legends at DDB, would change all of that in 60 seconds.
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