I have chosen this advertisement by President Lyndon Johnson that was called the “Daisy”, sometimes known as “Daisy Girl” or “Peace, Little Girl,” was a controversial political advertisement aired on television during the 1964 United States presidential election by incumbent president Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign. Though only aired once (by the campaign), it is considered an important factor in Johnson’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater and an important turning point in political and advertising history. It was created by Tony Schwartz of Doyle Dane Bernbach. It remains one of the most controversial political advertisements ever made. The Specific Public Relations Campaign is the Corporate Issue Advocacy, since this strategy is all about choosing a public stand on this controversial issue.  When one is selecting what party or political party one wants to make a stance with, this would be a precise sometimes a deep part of one’s existence. When one is at a crossroad on controversial issue sometimes that means you might have a definite outlook on politics, because it is clear that the republicans and democrats have their own idea when it comes to big controversial issue in our country. Since one has to make up their mind on which political party to pick or vote for, a lot of what makes one’s mind up is which party, will help me the most.

The advertisement begins with a little girl (Monique M. Corzilius); standing in a meadow with chirping birds, picking the petals of a daisy flower while counting each petal slowly. Because little Monique does not know her numbers perfectly, she repeats some and says others in the wrong order, all of which adds to her childlike appeal. When she reaches “nine”, an ominous-sounding male voice is then heard counting down a missile launch, and as the girl’s eyes turn toward something she sees in the sky, the camera zooms in until her pupil fills the screen, blacking it out. When the countdown reaches zero, the blackness is replaced by the flash and mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion. As the firestorm rages, a voiceover from Johnson states, “These are the stakes! It is to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.” Another voiceover (sportscaster Chris Schenkel) then says, “Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”

In my opinion, I believe that this campaign ad is in the Activation stage of President Lyndon Johnson reelection. In our reading it says that the detailed action plan of the activation step is “when the campaign makes the voters realize what the consequences of choosing that person will be for the voter themselves”. In the 1964 election, Republican Barry Goldwater campaigned on a right-wing message of cutting social programs and aggressive military action. Goldwater’s campaign suggested a willingness to use nuclear weapons in situations when others would find that unacceptable, something which Johnson sought to capitalize on. For example, Johnson used Goldwater’s speeches to imply that he would willingly wage a nuclear war, quoting Goldwater: “by one impulse act you could press a button and wipe out 300 million people before sun down.” In turn, Goldwater defended himself by accusing Johnson of making the accusation indirectly, and contending that the media blew the issue out of proportion. While Johnson wished to de-escalate the Vietnam War, Goldwater was a supporter and even suggested the use of nuclear weapons if necessary. The attack ad was designed to capitalize on these comments. In this ad President Johnson made it clear that it was too much of a hazard to elect Goldwater as the President, because if one did the end of how we knew life would be over. In my opinion this was a great technique since no one wanted the world to end, as one knew it, and President Johnson would not let the world end.

In this ad, it is clear that the audiences were for those who could vote in that election and not them but for the kids to say to their family, please vote for President Johnson.  This ad was using President Johnson plans as an agent to help persuade the voters to vote for peace and not war. The ad “Daisy” aired only once, during a September 7, 1964 telecast of David and Bathsheba on The NBC Monday Movie. Johnson’s campaign was widely criticized for using the prospect of nuclear war, as well as for the implication that Goldwater would start one, to frighten voters. The ad was immediately pulled, but the point was made, appearing on the nightly news and on conversation programs in its entirety. Jack Valenti, who served as a special assistant to Johnson, later suggested that pulling the ad was a calculated move, arguing that “it showed a certain gallantry on the part of the Johnson campaign to withdraw the commercial”. President Johnson’s ad did a very good job of persuading the American people to vote for peace and not war, or better yet, to vote for life, and not death.

Donald E. Archey


Presidential Election of 1964, History Central.

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