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Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics
The grainy black and white television ad shows a young girl in a flower-filled meadow, holding a daisy and plucking its petals, which she counts one by one. As the camera slowly zooms in on her eye, a man s solemn countdown replaces hers. In the little girl's eye, we see an atomic mushroom cloud and then we hear President Lyndon Baines Johnson's voice as...
The grainy black and white television ad shows a young girl in a flower-filled meadow, holding a daisy and plucking its petals, which she counts one by one. As the camera slowly zooms in on her eye, a man s solemn countdown replaces hers. In the little girl's eye, we see an atomic mushroom cloud and then we hear President Lyndon Baines Johnson's voice as it intones, ''These are the stakes 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.''In this thought-provoking and highly readable book, Robert Mann provides a concise, engaging study of the Daisy Girl spot, which helped usher presidential campaign advertising into the modern era. Commissioned by Johnson's campaign and aired only once during Johnson's 1964 presidential contest against Barry Goldwater, the spot remains an iconic piece of electoral propaganda, intertwining Cold War fears of nuclear annihilation with the increasingly savvy world of media and advertising. Mann illustrates how Johnson s campaign successfully cast Barry Goldwater as a radical too dangerous to control the nation s nuclear arsenal, a depiction that sparked immediate controversy across the United States.Repeatedly analyzed in countless print publications, the spot helped contribute to Johnson's crushing defeat over Goldwater and also opened the way to a new age of political advertising that accepts emotional appeals as a routine aspect of campaign strategy.
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