Highlighted Site of the Week – The Living Room Candidate - State and Federal Communications

September 24, 2010  •  

Highlighted Site of the Week – The Living Room Candidate

The Museum of the Moving Image: The Living Room Candidate offers over 300 presidential campaign television commercials ranging from 1952 to 2008.

We learned in school what a pivotal moment the Nixon vs. Kennedy televised debate was in shaping the American perceptions of the two candidates, but did you know the first televised presidential campaign ad was for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952? Advertising king Rosser Reeves (of “M&M candies melt in your mouth, not in your hand” fame) put together the famous “You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike for president…” jingle.

At the Living Room Candidate, you can sit back and enjoy all the ads: Eisenhower slamming the Democrats in his “Eisenhower Answers America” ad in 1952; the Kennedy, Man for the ’60s jingle, Nixon playing “Happy Birthday” on the piano for Duke Ellington in 1972; Jimmy Carter, “the leader for a change,” glad-handing the crowds in 1976; and Ronald Reagan, “a man whose time has come,” promoting his successes as governor of California in an ad from 1980. Wow, have the styles changed over 58 years!

Video courtesy of the Living Room Candidate.

If you can’t get enough of the Rosser Reeves-era commercials, PBS hosts a wonderful archive called  The :30 Second Candidate. That site hosts all of the campaign ads from the Eisenhower campaign of 1952. You will find a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the TV commercials went from concept to script, and from story board to ads.

The Living Room Candidate gives us two quotes to think about:

Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson said in 1956, “The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.”

By 1968, television producer and Nixon campaign consultant Roger Ailes said, “Television is no gimmick, and nobody will ever be elected to major office again without presenting themselves well on it.”

Should we add Facebook and Twitter to Ailes’ advice?

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