People have compared the GOP ad to the seminal Daisy spot created by Tony Schwartz at Doyle, Dane Bernbach for Lyndon Johnon's campaign against Goldwater in 1964. (Watch it on YouTube.)
The GOP even borrowed the copy line, "these are the stakes." from Daisy.
But they only borrowed the beginning of the line. What Johnson actually said in the voice-over to Daisy was this:
"These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God's children can live or go into the dark. We must either love each other or we must die."Johnson's rhetoric was about "all God's children," and "love." The GOP rhetoric is all about naming and nicknaming enemies that only they can protect us from, (terrorists, axis of evil, Islamofascists, defeatocrats, cut-and-runners).
Furthermore, the implication of the GOP ad is this: if we don't vote for them, Osama will use the bomb. Whereas the implication of the Johnson ad was this: if we didn't vote for him, the U.S. might use the bomb.
Think about that. Imagine in today's climate that you could run on the fear that the U.S. might do the wrong thing. Democrats today are even skittish about denouncing torture lest they reinforce the Republican accusation that Dems are weak.
Copy and rhetoric aside, there's another measure of the difference between the two spots. The GOP ad ignores all of the deeper wisdom about powerful communications that makes Daisy effective. Tony Schwartz discusses Daisy in, The Responsive Chord:
I believe television spots function well as electronic posters for a candidate; i.e., they create auditory and visual stimuli that can evoke a voter's deeply held feelings. Indeed, the best political commercials are similar to Roschach patterns. They provide a context for him to express these feelings...Schwartz built his advertising around resonance. He belived that the audience already had more information than an advertiser could cram into a commercial. The best strategy of a communicator is not to pour things into the audience, but to call up what is already there.
Many people, especially the Repubicans, shouted that the spot accused Senator Goldwater of being trigger-happy. But nowhere in the spot is Goldwater mentioned. There is not even an indirect reference to Goldwater. Indeed, someone unfamiliar with the political climate in 1963 and viewing the spot today will not perceive any allusion at all to Goldwater... The commercial evoked a deep feeling in many people that Goldwater might actually use nuclear weapons. This mistrust was not in the Daisy spot. It was in the people who viewed the commercial.
Are there any resonant Democratic TV spots today? Which ones do you think work this way?
(tags: Bush, GOP, Election, Osama bin Laden, Terror, Advertising, Campaign, Daisy, Politics)