Posted by Floyd Diebel 0 Comments

The Ultimate Vulgarity

Rosser Reeves made a series of TV spots for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1952 election campaign. They were some of the first political television advertisements ever made. Some of the spots were just dumb, like this one that was animated by Disney but others were far more contemporary in feel.

David Olgivy called using advertising to sell statesmen the ultimate vulgarity.

From Wikipedia: The more sinister of the spots consisted of Eisenhower answering phony questions from “regular citizens,” filled with antecdotes about his wife Mamie and everyday life. Supposedly Eisenhower was overheard between takes saying “To think that an old soldier should come to this.” Poor guy.

He (Reeves) packaged Eisenhower as a forthright, strong, yet friendly leader. The commercials all included a regular person asking a question to the upper right of the screen. They would cut to Eisenhower, not wearing glasses to look stronger, looking to the lower left and then turning to the camera and responding. They were created by letting Eisenhower speak for a number of hours. Then questions were crafted later that best fit his answers.

David Olgivy, the founder of Olgivy & Mather, and all around stick-in-the-mud refused using his agency to advertise politicians or political parties, calling the use of advertising to sell statesmen the ultimate vulgarity.

I’m still not sure if there’s a way to reconcile politics and advertising – but in any event, have a happy vote day.

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