In 1964 Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater were locked in battle for the presidential election of the US. With two months until election day, LBJ released an ad that would not only lock him in for the seat, but also change the face of political advertising.
Named “Peace Little Girl” it became to be known simply as “The Daisy Ad.” A young girl counts the petals on a flower as the camera comes in for a close up. When the camera reaches just her eye, a military countdown begins ending in a mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb with a voice-over of LBJ speaking about loving each other or perishing together.
While the race was never particularly close, LBJ’s lead widened after the ad aired and he easily won re-election come November.
What makes this ad amazing is two-fold.
- It only aired the one time, on NBC during the Monday Night Movie.
- It never once mentioned Barry Goldwater’s name, but the message was clear – he will take us to war.
The commercial was created by advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach, who are famous for their simple, yet compelling, graphic-driven ads. One of their most enduring and well known campaigns is for Volkswagen, making the teeny Beetle a hot ticket despite the US culture of huge cars and a not-too-distant memory of WWII.
The girl from the Daisy Ad reemerged in October of 2016 in a campaign ad for Hillary Clinton.