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Jun 17, 2008 10:17 am

The Daisy Ad

Tony Schwartz, creator of the daisy ad, died yesterday. The ad remains the most famous political commercial in U.S. history, though it obviously wasn't necessary for LBJ's overwhelming victory. Nonetheless, in an era when Democrats have traditionally been attacked as"soft on defense," the daisy ad is a reminder that a successful Dem candidate can handle the national security issue.

Ironically, given its later prestige, at the time many Democratic leaders felt that the ad (which only ran once, and which prompted calls of complaint to the White House switchboard) went too far. Larry O'Brien, a senior advisor to LBJ's campaign, told the President that 90 percent of the state party leaders to whom he spoke considered the ad too harsh. (They added, however, that they also viewed the ad as very effective.) Even LBJ--in the one item from the Johnson tapes--expressed some doubts about the ad. The brief clip is below; the President is talking with Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz.

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Jonathan Rees - 6/17/2008


What nobody seems to remember is that many of LBJ's ads were just as hard-hitting and they ran more than once. If anyone wants to see some samples, visit the Living Room Candidate's 1964 page. [Just Google "Living Room Candidate" and you'll get there; then click 1964 on the timeline at the left.] My favorite is called "Ice Cream," the seventh down on the Democratic side.