When you turn on the television during a presidential election today, it’s almost impossible not to see ads from major candidates. Those men and women even use streaming sites like Hulu to entice voters to vote for them. Though the 2016 election had a hint of mud slinging and negativity, others ads from the past used those same elements. Not all were as successful as the rest though. Some of the best presidential campaign ads of all time made voters think more about the issues and helped certain candidates pull out in front.
Daisy Girl is one of the most successful and effective presidential ad campaigns of all time. During the 1964 election, Barry Goldwater commented that he might use nuclear weapons, which didn’t sit well with Lyndon B. Johnson. This Johnson ad featured a young girl picking flowers before fading into a shot of nuclear weapons in action. The ad only aired on television once, but news stations across the country ran the ad multiple times. It was so effective that Johnson handily won the election over his opponent.
Is He Worthy?
Though it didn’t win John Kasich the presidential election in 2016, this ad campaign was one of the first that drew attention to the eventual winner’s, Donald Trump’s, negativity. Trump, who beat Hillary Clinton in the final race, appeared in front of his supporters and openly mocked a disabled reporter who called him out in the past. Kasich ran this ad as a way to show other Republicans that he might not be the president they wanted. The success of that ad led to Clinton’s campaign releasing similar ads that highlighted the way Trump talked about women and minorities.
I Like Ike
Even if you weren’t alive for this presidential campaign, you likely know the name Dwight Eisenhower. Part of his successful run for the nation’s presidency lied with the I Like Ike campaign. Walt Disney Studios actually produced the animated ad, which showed people all across the country that they could trust Eisenhower. Citizens for Eisenhower-Nixon also worked on the campaign, which experts call one of the most successful campaigns in history. You might catch current politicians like Mike Crapo wearing buttons or hanging signs that look similar to those used in the commercial today.
President George W. Bush ran for reelection in 2004 against Senator John Kerry. Though the two candidates were quite close in the polls, that all changed when Bush released this windsurfing commercial. The ad showed actual footage of John Kerry windsurfing in his private life but included text that mentioned some of the issues he changed his mind about in previous years, including funding for the military and education reform. Each time he moved on the screen, his position changed. This effective campaign helped President Bush capture 53% of the vote and win the election.
Senators, Congressmen and other politicians like Crapo know the importance of a solid ad campaign. Television commercials can grab the attention of potential voters, explain the issues and give them a reason to vote for certain candidates. While the best presidential ad campaigns of all time didn’t always work, those ads and commercials did get voters talking about the candidates and increased voter turn out.