Despite being a virtual landslide, the 1964 Presidential battle between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater was among the most hotly contested elections in modern times. This week, for Throwback Thursday, we’re featuring what is perhaps the most famous, divisive and chilling political attack ad of the Cold War era: “Daisy.” Created for LBJ’s campaign by the legendarily disruptive Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, agency head Bill Bernbach was reported to have called President Johnson directly to sell him on the ad.
“Daisy” only ran once in paid media (total spend: $24,000) when NBC aired it on September 7, 1964 during a primetime showing of the film David and Bathshebastarring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward. Public outcry from both sides of the aisle was immediate, and the ad was pulled forthwith. However, the national networks and local stations replayed it literally hundreds of times during the course of the election season as part of their news coverage, and the damage to the Goldwater campaign could not be repaired.