Campaign 2010: View the Changing Face of TV Political Ads from the 1950's to 2010.

When Did Political Ads Go South?  

1. I Like Ike, 1950's.
Television became a big player in the 1952 race for president between former war general Dwight D. Eisenhower and Illinois politician Adlai Stevenson. At that time short spot commercials were used in a way similar to product ads in  order to enhance the candidate's television image such as the popular ad below: 

2.  Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, 1960.
Not a whole lot happened in the next eight years to change thing as you can see in the ad below:

3. The Daisy Ad, 1964.
The Barry Goldwater, Lyndon B. Johnson race was a different story.  After November 22, 1963, the JFK assassination, things changed.  The nation would never again be the same.  Shocked and frightened, the theme of fear was an easy choice for ad agencies and the "Daisy Ad" was created and worked:

4. Agnew for V.P. ad.
By 1968, the country had undergone more change and trauma.  Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King had both been assassinated, the Vietnam War was raging, along with campus protests, and an unruly democratic convention in Chicago popularizing the chant  "Hell no, we won't go" and  "the Pigs (police) are whores."   The nation was ready for a reason to laugh and they got one.  Even though Hubert Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon he should have gotten an award for this ad:

5. Reagan, It's morning again America.
Let's skip over the Carter years (1976-1980) to the Reagan years (1980-1988).  Reagan restored a certain civility to American political advertising as evidenced in this 1984 campaign commercial:

6. Read My Lips.
In the 1992 Presidential campaign between George H. Bush and Bill Clinton, it's back to politics as usual, in the famous 1992 "Read My Lips" commercial.

7, 8. The hotly contested George W. Bush and Al Gore race in 2000 featured the following two commercials:


9.  The Obama-McCain race in 2008 brought out the pro's as well as many YouTube parodies as you will see below: 

10.  The 2010 mid-term elections had the attack dogs foaming at the mouth with negative ads leading the pack. Check out the following memorable I AM NOT A WITCH ad in Christine O'Donnell vs. Mike Castle U.S. Senate race in Delaware.

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    Carole Kuhrt Brewer

    Arts and Entertainment Reporter for media since 1997.

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