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Historic campaign ads

October 24th, 2008 by Travis McCann

As both a media and politics junkie, I’ve always been interested in the evolution of the campaign advertisement. Today, spending on these ads has reached an all-time high, and it is hard to imagine a time when political campaign ads were a novelty.

It’s even harder to imagine a time before negative campaign advertising. The attack ad is so ubiquitous in our political culture now that it is hard to imagine there could have even been a first. But in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson’s campaign ran what is now known as the “Daisy Girl” ad which has come to be recognized as the first attack ad. Levied against his opponent, Barry Goldwater, the Johnson campaign’s connection of the all-American girl counting flower petals with the countdown and subsequent atomic explosion was intended to reinforce the concept that a vote for Goldwater was a vote for nuclear war.

If you’re as interested as I am in the history of political campaigns, then you’ll love our new Historic Campaign Ads series, which brings you the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) of political advertising from the 1950s through the 1980s. Enjoy!


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