Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why This Works

I was around but I didn’t see the one and only airing of the famous Daisy ad that the Lyndon Johnson campaign ran in 1964 against Barry Goldwater. It became iconic for its devastatingly simple message: vote for Goldwater and risk nuclear Armageddon. It worked not because it was just meant to make the viewer trash his shorts with the fear of a mushroom cloud over Toledo; it worked because it neatly encapsulated the whole argument against the Republican candidate in one minimalist ad… if you can call a nuclear blast “minimalist.”

Every campaign looks for an ad like that: a spot that sums up the entire argument against a candidate in thirty seconds without having to use scary music, sneering voice-overs, or hard-hitting punch lines. All they need is something simple that says it all.

I think the Obama campaign has found its Daisy: