Dickinson College // Spring 2024

TV Ads, 1952-1968

The Living Room Candidate website, courtesy of the Museum of the Moving Image, has collected televised presidential campaign advertisements from 1952 to the present day. They offer a great window for understanding some key trends in US history since 1945.

Here is a pioneering TV ad from the 1952 campaign, presented in what was then popular movie newsreel style, for the Republican campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Think carefully about what the commercial is emphasizing –and also what it omits.

1952 ad

Compare that 1952 effort to these more polished, 1960 John F. Kennedy campaign ads, one positive and upbeat and the other quite negative:

1960 ad

1960 ad


Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) ad in the history of modern presidential campaigns appeared as a paid advertisement on TV only once –the so-called “Daisy ad” from 1964. Students should be able to explain what this ad was about, and why it was so powerful and controversial.

1964 ad

The Richard Nixon campaign in 1968 revolutionized the use of TV commercials in presidential contests, relying on them more than any other previous campaign organization. These two notable examples help highlight some of the changes and the continuities in the Cold War climate since 1952.

Nixon ad


1968 ad

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