Oct 19

Issue: Elections & Voting RSS

10 best political advertisements of all time



Posted 3 years, 6 months ago.

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No matter where you live, you’ve likely been bombarded with political advertising as the midterm election date approaches. While this is not a presidential election year, it got us at the National Constitution Center thinking about impactful political television advertising. A great television ad can make or break a candidate in less than 60 seconds.

Thanks to the site Living Room Candidate, we dug deep (all the way back to 1952!) to bring you the 10 best political advertisements of all time. In this list we’ll focus primarily on the Presidential election. Think we missed one? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

’52 – Ike for President
Candidate
: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican.
Did he win?: Yes.

Thanks to this successful advertising campaign (and a history as a decorated general) Dwight D. Eisenhower won the 1952 election in a landslide.


’52 – Double Talk

Candidate: Adlai Stevenson, Democrat
Did he win?: No.

Though he didn’t win the election, this advertisement by Adlai Stevenson’s campaign is earily similar to the attack ads by George W. Bush in 2004. Whether it’s called “double talk” or “flip-flopping,” convincing the voters that the opponent doesn’t have strong views is an American tradition, perfectly demonstrated here.

’60 – JFK Jingle
Candidate: John F. Kennedy, Democrat
Did he win?: Yes.

While the best true “commercial” for Kennedy may have been the 1960 debate, this advertisement helped turn Kennedy’s youth into an asset as the jingle describes the candidate as someone who is “old enough to know and young enough to do.”

’64 – “Daisy”
Candidate: Lyndon Johnson, Democrat
Did he win? Yes.

According to livingroomcadidate.com, this world famous advertisement only ran once but is often cited as one of the most successful political advertisements of all time.

’68 “Laughter”
Candidate: Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Democrat
Did he win?: No.

In 1968, many Americans were unfamiliar with Nixon’s running mate: former Baltimore County Executive Spiro Agnew. Humphrey, a former VP himself, attempted to capitalize on Agnew’s inexperience by making it a laughing matter. Though Agnew and Nixon won the election, Agnew eventually ended up resigning after being accused of bribery and tax fraud.

’72 – McGovern Defense
Candiate: Richard Nixon, Republican
Did he win? Yes.

In most elections, the Republican candidate often attempts to paint their opposition as weak on issues of national defense. Using nothing but a few toy soliders, Nixon lobs the familiar claim towards George McGovern, alleging that McGovern will drastically cut the number of active U.S. Military.

’84 – “Morning in America”
Candidate: Ronald Regan, Republican
Did he win? Yes.

This famous advertisement was among the first to ask “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” For many Americans, the answer was “yes” and they voted accordingly to reelect Reagan in a landslide.

’88 – Willie Horton
Candidate
: George H.W. Bush
Did he win? Yes.

This is the most famous– infamous really — attack ad in the last 30 years.  This advertisement helped bury Dukakis, though many contended that the advertisement was racist.

’04 – Windsurfing
Candidate: George W. Bush, Republican
Did he win? Yes.

John Kerry gave the Republicans the image that captured what voters felt uneasy about. Kerry seemed to want to be all things to all people (you may also remember the ad that he gift wrapped for the GOP: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”). The windsurfing ad was a visual of Kerry flip-flopping.

In Karl’s Rove new book he wrote: “Kerry had revealed that the concerns about him were entirely justified. In thirteen words, he told Americans he was an unreliable, inconsistent, weak flip-flopper unfit for the Oval Office.”

’08 – Yes We Can

Candidate: Barack Obama, Democrat
Did he win? Yes.

Online videos had been around since the 2004 election, but no online political advertisement had the impact of “Yes we can” in 2008. Then again, no presidential candidate was more effective in harnessing the web than Barack Obama. The ad continued the Obama campaign’s quest to make its candidate larger-than-life with cameos with celebrities singing to one of Obama’s speeches.



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