Lyndon Johnson picks a Daisy

Democrat Lyndon Johnson is said to have turned the tide in the 1964 Presidential USA election campaign against Republican candidate Barry Goldwater using an emotive TV ad, Daisy. A 4 year old girl, (Birgitte Olsen) stands in a meadow with wild flowers and chirping birds, counting the petals of a daisy as she picks them off one by one. “One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Seven. Six. Six. Eight. Nine. Nine…”

Girl in Daisy TV ad from 1964


A voice over a loudspeaker counts down from ten to zero as the camera zooms in on the girl’s eye. A nuclear explosion fills the screen on zero.

Lyndon Johnson is heard to say, “”These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.” Sportscaster Chris Schenkel says, “Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube

The Daisy ad was withdrawn from air almost immediately, in the wake of criticism over the use of nuclear war as a scare tactic. However the spot continued to etch its way into the American consciousness as it was screened on news programs.

Johnson’s line “We must either love each other, or we must die” echoes W. H. Auden’s poem “September 1, 1939″ in which line 88 reads “We must love one another or die”.

The Daisy ad was developed at DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach) by account director James Graham, senior art director Sid Myers, copywriter Stanley R. Lee, creative director Tony Schwartz and agency producer Aaron Ehrlich, with photographer Drummond Drury, Elliot Unger Elliot.

For more background on the ad see Conelrad, PBS, and Wikipedia.

Filed under: Commercials, Democrats, Politics

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