The most famous of all campaign commercials, known as the “Daisy Girl” ad, ran only once as a paid advertisement, during an NBC broadcast of Monday Night at the Movies on September 7, 1964. Without any explanatory words, the ad uses a simple and powerful cinematic device, juxtaposing a scene of a little girl happily picking petals off of a flower (actually a black-eyed Susan), and an ominous countdown to a nuclear explosion. The ad was created by the innovative agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, known for its conceptual, minimal, and modern approach to advertising. The memorable soundtrack was created by Tony Schwartz, an advertising pioneer famous for his work with sound, including anthropological recordings of audio from cultures around the world. The frightening ad was instantly perceived as a portrayal of Barry Goldwater as an extremist. In fact, the Republican National Committee spelled this out by saying, “This ad implies that Senator Goldwater is a reckless man and Lyndon Johnson is a careful man.” This was precisely the intent; in a memo to President Johnson on September 13, Bill Moyers wrote, “The idea was not to let him get away with building a moderate image and to put him on the defensive before the campaign is old.” The ad was replayed in its entirety on ABC’s and CBS’s nightly news shows, amplifying its impact.
"Peace Little Girl (Daisy)," Democratic National Committee, 1964
Maker: DDB: Aaron Erlich, Stan Lee, Sid Myers, and Tony Schwartz
Original air date: 09/07/64
Video courtesy of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library