Voters dislike negative campaigning…or do they?

The video above was the first attack ad…simple yet effective. It started the war of negative advertising.

Fifty years ago—on the night of Monday, Sept. 7, 1964—an innocent little girl plucking flower petals in a sun-splashed field helped usher in a revolution in American political advertising. The 60-second television spot that featured her disjointed counting exploded, literally and figuratively, all notions of what it meant to effectively persuade voters with paid political advertising.

The little girl counted as she plucked flower petals. Unseen birds chirped happily. As her counting ended, viewers suddenly heard a mission control announcer begin a countdown. As he neared zero, the girl’s image froze as the camera zoomed into her right eye until her pupil filled the screen and was replaced by a nuclear blast and mushroom cloud. As the apocalyptic scene unfolded, President Lyndon Johnson’s reedy drawl entered the spot, ending with the admonition, “we must either love each other or we must die.”

The so-called “Daisy Girl” spot created by Johnson’s New York advertising firm aired only once as a paid commercial during the 1964 presidential campaign. An estimated 50 million voters saw it during NBC’s “Monday Night at the Movies”—the film was “David and Bathsheba.” Another 50 million or more saw it again, or for the first time, later that week when the three television networks aired the unique, powerful spot in their newscasts.

They always say they don’t like it but it works.

Voters say they dislike this kind of negative campaigning. But their behavior tells a different story. Successful political advertisers will not soon, if ever, take us back to the pre-Daisy Girl days of purely bland, uncreative, fact-based arguments. If the best political ads still win elections—and there is considerable debate about whether they do—it’s the emotional appeals and striking visuals that attract viewers and move them to action. That was the true innovation of the Daisy spot—eschewing argument for emotion and understanding that voting is often not a rational decision, but rather a psychological purchase.

Labour has tried to run negative, except they got Nicky Hager to write a book to add the counter-foil to their Vote Positive slogan, a slogan they have steadfastly ignored hoping that voters wouldn’t notice the connection between their campaign and the real dirty politics…the hacking of political opponents emails.

 

– Politico


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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