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“Daisy”: The Most Effective Political Commercial Ever?

As we enter the homestretch of the 2016 Presidential campaign, we’re sure to see an increasing number of television ads. Although social media is now an important part of any candidate’s promotional arsenal, the amount of money spent on TV ads continues to grow with each cycle. Given the ubiquity of TV spots, it’s hard to break through the clutter. But some political ads achieve a kind of resonance far beyond their effectiveness for a specific campaign, such as “I Like Ike” for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 or “Prouder, Stronger, Better,” better known as Ronald Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” spot.

Perhaps the most famous of all—and certainly one of the most controversial—is a commercial produced primarily by Tony Schwartz for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 campaign against Barry Goldwater. Its official title is “Peace, Little Girl,” but it’s much better known as the “Daisy” ad. It aired just one time—on NBC fifty-two years ago today, September 7, 1964—but its impact was immediate and long-lasting. As any cursory online search will prove, many words have been written about “Daisy,” so we were pleased to find a 35mm copy in the Tony Schwartz Collection, presented here newly scanned in high definition. Time has not diminished its visceral power.

Peace, Little Girl (aka “Daisy”)

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