Type of Commercial Children

Peace Little Girl (Daisy)

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.

Transcript

Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate - Transcript
"Peace Little Girl (Daisy)," Johnson, 1964

CHILD: One, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six, eight, nine, nine.

MALE VOICE: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero.

(Sound of exploding bomb)

JOHNSON (voice-over): These are the stakes: To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the darkness. We must either love each other, or we must die.

MALE NARRATOR: Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.

Credits

"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.

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012.
www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1964/peace-little-girl-daisy (accessed November 22, 2014).

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Images of children play on a number of powerful emotions, including fear, anxiety, and hope for the future. These images command the viewers’ attention and tug at their heartstrings.
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