60+ Years of Presidential Campaign Ads [Video]

The 2012 presidential election was especially tough, but a new video compares 60 years of presidential advertisements to show that the latest attack ads and stump speeches are part of a greater American political legacy.

The video, created by Australian video editor Hugh Atkin, builds dozens of campaign advertisements from Presidents, candidates, VPs and first ladies into a single coherent statement on American politics.

“Change,” “fresh start” and other buzz phrases make recurring appearances throughout the video, perhaps showing that trend-setting ads from Romney and Obama are part of a continuing trend in American politics. The famous “Daisy” ad, in which Lyndon B. Johnson controversially used the threat of nuclear war to criticize opponent Barry Goldwater, kicks off a review of the various major political issues of the last century.

There are also brief glimpses of attack ads from Clinton, Nixon and others, contrasting sharply with the cartoons and sing-song jingles of Dwight Eisenhower and earlier candidates.

Despite the sometimes tough juxtaposition of negative and positive advertisements, the video has an overall hopeful message: democracy has always been a part of the United States’ cultural identity, and democracy will continue to play a critical role in our development as a nation. For better and worse, this comparison of 60+ years of television and Internet ads might be the best way to express that development, and to show how powerful images and memorable messages influence the American political landscape.

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