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DAISY: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AN INFAMOUS AND ICONIC AD
Still from the 'Peace, Little Girl,' aka The Daisy Spot

DAISY: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AN INFAMOUS AND ICONIC AD - PART ONE

"I just shudder to think what would happen if Goldwater won it. He's a man that's had two nervous breakdowns. He's not a stable fellow at all." [ 1 ]
— President Lyndon B. Johnson to Texas Governor John Connally
White House telephone tape recording, 7/23/64
"The homes of America are horrified and the intelligence of Americans is insulted by weird television advertising by which this administration threatens the end of the world unless all-wise Lyndon is given the nation for his very own." [ 2 ]
— Senator Barry M. Goldwater referring to the Daisy spot
Indianapolis, Indiana speech, 9/29/64
"Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula." [ 3 ]
— William Bernbach, founding partner of the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach
"...probably the most controversial TV commercial of all time." [ 4 ]
— The New York Times

Every election season when politicians unleash their expensive and (usually) unimaginative attack ads, op-ed writers invoke the unofficial title of the most notorious 60 seconds in advertising history: "The Daisy Ad" (official title: "Peace, Little Girl," aka "Daisy Girl," "The Daisy Spot, "aka "Little Girl – Countdown"). The spot features a little girl picking petals off of a daisy in a field and counting out of sequence just before an adult voiceover interjects a "military" countdown which is then followed by stock footage of a nuclear explosion and the cautionary words of President Lyndon B. Johnson: "These are the stakes – to make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." The ad – which never identifies its target – was aimed at reinforcing the perception that the 1964 Republican candidate for president, Senator Barry M. Goldwater, could not be trusted with his finger on the button. Title screen from 'David and Bathsheba'As has often been recited, the Daisy ad aired only once as a paid advertisement – on NBC during the network movie (DAVID AND BATHSHEBA) on Monday, September 7, 1964.[ 5 ] Since that long ago Labor Day, the film of the child and her daisies has been re-played millions of times.

The spot was and still is a masterpiece of manipulation, juxtaposing the playful innocence of childhood with the protocol and horror of war. The simplicity of the message was made all the more effective because the 1964 campaign took place less than two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis and within three years of the Berlin crisis in which President John F. Kennedy rattled the nation with his remarks on the importance of civil defense.[ 6 ] In other words, the "end of the world" was not an abstract concept for most Americans during this period of the Cold War. It was a very real possibility.

Fragments of the story behind the evolution of this notorious advertisement have been published numerous times over the decades. But not until now has the full history of the spot been told in all its strange glory. CONELRAD has spent the last year examining every aspect of this remarkable moment in popular culture. We have interviewed people involved with the ad—including the Daisy Girl herself—who have never or who have rarely spoken on the record about the spot. Numerous government documents, private papers, books, magazine and newspaper articles were also reviewed so that the complete record could be presented.

The "Daisy" story is a tale of how a group of dedicated men from various backgrounds in government and advertising came together to sell a "product"—the President of the United States. These professionals succeeded spectacularly in their primary objective (no matter that Lyndon Johnson turned out to be defective merchandise), but they also created an indelible icon of the Cold War in the process. This is how it happened.

Before he became a sainted martyr in Dallas in 1963, Print ad for the Volkswagon 'Think Small' campaignPresident Kennedy was a politician intent on getting re-elected, a goal that was far from guaranteed. Kennedy's stand on civil rights had made him vulnerable in the south and his poll numbers had dropped during the last year of his life. The chief goal of the early swing through Texas was to help shore up the state for '64. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, the President's most dreaded potential Republican opponent, had announced his candidacy on November 7, 1963 (he was the first major candidate to do so). A full year before the election, Goldwater was seen by the Kennedy camp as being the most desirable GOP nominee to take on. The President personally liked the plain spoken Arizonan, but believed that his extreme political views would hobble him in a general election. A week after Rockefeller's declaration Kennedy held his first formal campaign strategy session and the agreed upon re-election theme coming out of this meeting was "peace and prosperity."[ 7 ]

Much has been made of the late President's amorous proclivities, but he also somehow managed to fit a tremendous amount of reading into his busy schedule. "Kennedy takes printer's ink for breakfast," President John F. Kennedy reading, August 4, 1963James Reston of the New York Times once remarked.[ 8 ] The young President was also widely known to have an astounding facility for recalling the details of what he perused. The advertising campaigns for Avis Rent-a-Car ("We try harder") and Volkswagen ("Think Small") made such an impression on Kennedy that he asked brother-in-law Stephen E. Smith to approach the firm that produced them – Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) – to ascertain whether the agency would be open to the prospect of working on his '64 campaign. The President's 1960 ad man, Jack Denove (who was still owed money from that work), was also asked to come up with a media proposal for the upcoming election season.[ 9 ] And then fate intervened in Dallas.

It was not long after the Kennedy assassination that Lyndon B. Johnson began thinking about his next campaign. The famously insecure Time Magazine - Bill Moyers cover, October 29, 1965and temperamental Texan desired a landslide in '64 to erase any lingering doubt that he was an "accidental President."[ 10 ] Johnson engaged long time protégé Bill Moyers who had been Deputy Director of the Peace Corps at the time of Kennedy's death to oversee various aspects of the campaign. The ambitious young man's official title during this period was Special Assistant to the President. Moyers, in turn, tapped Lloyd Wright, the Deputy Associate Director of Public Affairs at the Peace Corps, to join him in the election effort. Wright's self-described competitive relationship with Moyers went all the way back to their days as classmates at the University of Texas in Austin. At one point early in their professional careers the two men worked at rival Austin radio stations, Moyers at the station owned by the Johnson family.[ 11 ]

In an interview with CONELRAD, Wright stated that "There came a time (in 1964) when the campaign finally began that Bill asked me to come aboard and I left the Peace Corps and I believe I was put on the staff of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and became the coordinator for the advertising and media work of the campaign." Wright added that he "inherited" Stephen Smith's job of selecting an advertising agency for the upcoming campaign. Wright ultimately recommended that the campaign choose DDB over the runner-up Grant Advertising, a Chicago-based firm. In a memo dated March 11, 1964 and organized under the headings of Cost, Competence and Commitment, he gave his rationale for selecting DDB over Grant. While cost was a major consideration, competence was the "critical factor." Wright's formal "pitch" was addressed to his campaign seniors, Bill Moyers, Dick Maguire, Jack Valenti and Wilson McCarthy:

...I have counseled with the most respected men in the industry about this matter and without exception, they say DDB is by far the best. And they are likewise unanimous in their rejection of Grant... DDB is today recognized as one of the top agencies in the business. They have a proven record of performance. Grant has been up and down for the past several years. Today they are down... DDB has a staff which would be available for about any service we would require. Grant would bring aboard "creative consultants" to help develop materials. (And the man they propose, Bill, is Shelly Sosna,[ 12 ] a likable guy who worked with us on the Peace Corps. But he was canned by DCSS (Doherty, Clifford, Steers & Shenfield) for inadequate productivity...[ 13 ]

Wright's recommendation was persuasive. Eight days later, on March 19th, DDB took on its very first political client when firm co-founder Maxwell Dane signed the official contract with the "client," the DNC.[ 14 ] The agency wasted no time in getting to work. On March 25th Wright issued a memo to high ranking White House aides (Bill Moyers, Larry O'Brien, Jack Valenti, Kenny O'Donnell, and others) informing them that senior DDB representatives would be visiting the White House the following day for an "initial orientation session." Items on the agenda for this kick-off meeting were:

  1. Major campaign issues, treatment
  2. Problem areas, target markets
  3. General campaign theme
  4. Advertising timetable
  5. Method of operation (clearance of materials, etc.)[ 15 ]

By April, DDB co-founder William Bernbach had selected 40 copywriters, art directors, television production people and support staff to form a dedicated team to work exclusively on the Johnson campaign. A prerequisite for the prestigious assignment was for the recruits to be Democrats. "Oh, yea, everyone was a true believer. Yea, it was like a crusade," confirmed Sid Myers, the Art Director for the Daisy Spot, in an interview with CONELRAD. In a June Newsweek story, Bernbach refused to divulge the advertising strategy of the campaign. He did allow with a laugh: "I think we have a great product, though. In fact I'd say it's the easiest account we ever got."[ 16 ]

The crusade's encampment was a warren of 20 cubicles rented specifically for the Johnson "account" on the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) The original 'Mad Men' 1964: Left to Right: Aaron Ehrlich, Sid Myers, James H. Graham (seated), Stanley R. Lee, Unknown7th floor of 20 West 43rd Street in Manhattan. The main offices of DDB were on the 20th through 29th floors of the building. At some point during the campaign a calendar was posted in a hallway on the 7th floor with the days leading up to the election crossed off with a red grease marker. The entry for November 4th (the day after the election) was replaced with a photocopy of a crowd scene with a person holding a sign reading "Peace."[ 17 ] DDB also set up a low-profile Washington, D.C. office in the "subheadquarters" of the DNC at 1907 K Street that was overseen by DDB assistant account executive George Abraham.[ 18 ]

James H. Graham was 41-years-old, under-employed and "borrowing" an office at DDB when he was offered the Account Executive position to be in charge of the '64 election unit. The colorful Graham, a former military band singer, had been fired in 1962 from the firm of Benton & Bowles for taking the "Trust Your Car to the Man Who Wears the Star" slogan pitch directly to the CEO of Texaco. A Texaco marketing executive had passed on it the same day when Graham impulsively decided to use his connection to the CEO's secretary to get a meeting with the head honcho. The Texaco chief enthusiastically embraced the slogan, but the marketing executive was furious over his authority having been circumvented and he complained vociferously to Benton & Bowles. Graham was let go for not following protocol and soon found himself freelancing out of the spare cubicle a friend had offered him at DDB. Texaco, of course, used the slogan that the resourceful Graham had successfully pitched and the company continues to feature it in promotional material to this day.[ 19 ]

Graham would soon work closely with Sid Myers, copywriter Stanley R. Lee (Myers' partner for the duration) and producer Aaron Ehrlich. It would be these men—along with the "King of Sound," Tony Schwartz—who would be responsible for the most famous ad in television history, the Daisy spot. Graham would memorably tell Pete Hamill for a New York Times magazine article: "We're selling the President of the United States."[ 20 ]

By the end of the grueling campaign, the ad man was no longer squatting in a borrowed cubicle. He had an official office and was separating his clean laundry from his dirty laundry in the drawers of his desk.[ 21 ] One of Lloyd Wright's criteria for choosing DDB was "commitment." He certainly got that and more with the agency that, like Avis, "tried harder."

One need only compare the televised political ads of the 1950s to those of the Johnson campaign in 1964 to realize just how innovative DDB was. The presidential campaign spotsWilliam Bernbach, 1965 of the previous era (including Kennedy's in 1960) are absolutely prehistoric while DDB's '64 ad work looks—even today—astonishingly modern. It was Bernbach, the creative partner in the triumvirate of DDB co-founders, who revolutionized advertising into a true art form. "It was like the Bauhaus of advertising," stated Myers in his CONELRAD interview.

DDB was founded by Ned Doyle, Maxwell Dane, and Bernbach in 1949. Doyle and Bernbach had been vice presidents at Grey Advertising and Dane was a tennis partner and former associate of Doyle. The three founders each brought considerable and distinct skills to their new business endeavor which ended its first year with just $500,000 in billings (by 1959, the agency was billing $27.5 million annually). Dane handled administrative and financial matters, Doyle, a lawyer by training, handled the client rainmaking and Bernbach was the creative force who changed the face of modern advertising technique.

The Brooklyn-born Bernbach graduated with a major in English from New York University in 1933 and was, by many accounts, a soft-spoken intellectual who liked to infuse his copy with a subtle yet irreverent sense of humor. Before serving in World War II, Bernbach worked as a writer and researcher for the 1939-1940 World's Fair and got a job at his first advertising agency, William H. Weintraub, Inc., soon after.

Bernbach had once explained his professional philosophy to an interviewer as follows: "Creativity can be talked about, like the weather or sin. We really sweat at it here. We believe that good taste can be good selling. The whole history of art and literature is the effort of a people to try and say or create something in a fresh, imaginative way."

Bernbach, who sympathized with the public's distaste for the "hard sell," shunned marketing research and embraced instinct. "Artistry, by and large, is having deep insights into human nature and then expressing it in a very, very fresh way – an original way," he was quoted by the New York Times in 1982. One of the ways he fostered this approach at DDB was to break with the traditional agency organizational model and institute what was dubbed a "horizontal hierarchy." "In most agencies the copywriter and the art director never worked together, explained Myers for CONELRAD. "The copywriter would not work with the art director. At DDB, that was different. DDB innovated the partnership." Bernbach also insulated his "Creative Teams" from the outside pressures of sales demands, freeing them to focus on their more purely inspirational tasks.

One of Bernbach's other talents, which clearly helped broaden the success of DDB, was in education. He would teach many young copywriters his unique skills and share his invaluable experience as the years went by. 1964 proved to be a year rich in experience for an agency already well on its way to becoming legendary. DDB's work for President Johnson transcended a mere contract for advertising services and made the leap into history.[ 22 ]

In Barry Goldwater's 1988 autobiography "Goldwater," he admits "I made too many joking references, like ‘lobbing one (a missile) into the men's room of the Kremlin.' (Boy, did I pay for that offhand quip!)."[ 23 ] He certainly did. But Goldwater also made serious, frightening proposals regarding nuclear weapons that handed the Johnson campaign a red hot issue to exploit.

On October 24, 1963 in Hartford, Connecticut, the Washington Post reported that Goldwater advocated in a press conference that NATO commanders in Europe should have the discretion to use tactical nuclear weapons for emergencies. The Post article quoted Goldwater as characterizing such tactical armaments as "merely another weapon." Goldwater later stated that he was referring to the NATO commander—singular, not dozens of field commanders. The damage, though, had already been done and the senator's questionable qualifier did not make a difference in public perception.[ 24 ]

On May 24, 1964, Goldwater appeared with interviewer Howard K. Smith on ABC's "Issues and Answers" public affairs program. In response to a question on military strategy in Vietnam, the senator stated: "There have been many suggestions made. I don't think we would use any of them. But defoliation of the forests by low-yield atomic weapons could be done. When you remove the foliage, you remove the cover." Goldwater later disputed the interpretation taken from his comments, but again, this recovery maneuver had little effect with the public.[ 25 ]

Contrary to popular belief, Johnson's strategists were not the first people to saddle Goldwater with the itchy nuclear trigger finger image. During the make-or-break presidential primary race in California, the senator's moderate opponent for the nomination, Nelson Rockefeller, unleashed a mass mailing of a pamphlet entitled "Who Do You Want in the Room with the H Bomb?" The pamphlet, produced by Rockefeller's ad firm in California, Spencer-Roberts and Associates, Govenor Nelson Rockefeller being booed at the 1964 Republican Convention at the Cow Palace in San Franciscowas a collection of Goldwater's shoot-from-the-hip comments. It was delivered to all two million registered Republicans in the state and sparked a boomlet of controversy. The costly mailing, however, was effectively defused by "nature," as Stu Spencer put it, when Rockefeller's second wife, "Happy," gave birth to a baby boy just before the election: "It reopened the wounds of being a woman-chaser, of adultery, all the Goddamned questions we had fuzzed over by accusing Goldwater of being a madman."[ 26 ] Goldwater won the June 3rd primary and Rockefeller was memorably booed at San Francisco's Cow Palace during the GOP convention. The party had made a sharp right turn that would not soon be forgotten.

Goldwater's mental suitability for the presidency came into public play in May of 1964 when Good Housekeeping magazine published an interview with the candidate's wife, Peggy, conducted by Alvin Toffler (soon-to-be-famous best-selling author and "futurist"). Mrs. Goldwater stated that there were two occasions in the late 1930s when, under the stress of running the family business (Goldwater's Department Stores), her husband's "nerves broke completely." Toffler characterized Goldwater's first episode that occurred in 1937 as a "nervous breakdown" and that two years later he "cracked again."[ 27 ]

It was Toffler's interview with Mrs. Goldwater that caused Johnson to remark to Texas Governor John Connally in a recorded White House telephone conversation: "I just shudder to think what would happen if Goldwater won it. He's a man that's had two nervous breakdowns. He's not a stable fellow at all."[ 28 ]

In July of 1964 Moyers learned from a friend in the psychiatric field that a magazine was conducting an unusual survey regarding Goldwater's mental state. Moyers was aware that a professional journal, Medical Tribune, had already published findings that psychiatrists endorsed Johnson over Goldwater by a ratio of 10-to-1. The publication Moyers' friend was referring to, however, was not quite as reputable.[ 29 ]

Publisher and free speech provocateur Ralph Ginzburg, who once described himself as a "curious footnote" September-October 1964 issue of Ralph Ginzburg's FACT magazineto history (his Eros magazine obscenity case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court), picked up the Goldwater-is-nuts angle and exploited it like a William Castle horror movie. In the September-October 1964 issue of his political journal "Fact," Ginzburg published 41 pages of excerpts from one of the most unscientific studies ever performed. "Fact" surveyed 12,356 psychiatrists with a single question (which also included a space on the form for "comments"): "Is Barry Goldwater psychologically fit to be President of the United States." 2,417 psychiatric professionals actually responded with 1,189 of them answering in the negative to the question and 657 answering in the affirmative. 571 stated they "did not know enough about Goldwater to answer the question." None of the respondents had ever actually put the candidate on the couch. The issue, featuring the blaring headline "1,189 Psychiatrists Say Goldwater is Unfit to be President!" sold 160,000 copies (with a cover price of $1.25 each).[ 30 ]

Goldwater's political ascension in 1964 was viewed with no small amount of delight by Democrats because of the exploitable issues the senator brought to the race. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) president John P. Roche wrote to Moyers in June of that year: "It begins to look as though the Republicans are really going on a Kamikaze mission in November." Roche went on to suggest a "savage assault" on Goldwater and even pitched a billboard concept: "Goldwater in 64 —Hotwater in 65? With a mushroom cloud in the background."[ 31 ]

In a July 22nd telephone conversation Johnson's press secretary George Reedy weighed in with his own bluntly phrased theory of attack against Goldwater:

I think there's a weakness to Goldwater. I think the big weakness is that people think he's pretty reckless. And I think the one thing that we ought to get out now is some of the things that he has said about the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, but not say it in the way that it has been said. I think we gotta get this thing down to some gut things: Mothers that are worried about having radioactive poison in their kids' milk. Men that are worried about becoming sterile. Uh, give them some thoughts about maybe kids being born with two heads and things like that.

As the tape of the above conversation demonstrates, Johnson is silent through most of Reedy's discourse. However, in another telephone conversation one day later, the President himself is challenging Robert Kennedy's assertion that "When the country is at peace, as it is now, they're not concerned about Russians as much... There's not a crisis like the Berlin Wall or Cuba." Johnson counters using one of Reedy's more memorable terms for radioactive mutation: "I don't know. A mother is pretty worried if she thinks her child is drinking contaminated milk or that maybe she's going to have a baby with two heads..." Clearly Reedy's earlier points were well taken by his boss.[ 32 ]

Presidential aide and speechwriter Richard N. Goodwin recounts in his memoir "Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties" an unannounced visit from the President to a West Wing campaign strategy session. Johnson's folksy remarks as quoted by Goodwin reveal the President's philosophy of how the race should be conducted:

You fellows are the experts, but this is how I see it. I'm the president. That's our greatest asset. And I don't want to piss it away by getting down in the mud with Barry... My daddy once told me about the time a fire broke out in a three-story building in Johnson City. Old Man Hutchinson was trapped on the third floor and the fire ladder was too short to reach him. So Jim Morsund, he was one of the volunteer fire chiefs, grabbed a piece of rope, tied a loop in it, threw it up to Mr. Hutchinson, and told him to tie it around his waist... Then he pulled him down.

Now Barry's already got a rope around him and he's knotted it pretty firm. All you have to do is give a little tug. And while he's fighting to keep standing, I'll just sit right here and run the country.[ 33 ]

In addition to the higher-minded strategy meetings referenced by Goodwin in his book and attended by himself, Bill Moyers, Clark Clifford Jack Valenti and others, there was also a secret White House campaign apparatus known informally as "the Department of Dirty Tricks," "the anti-campaign" or "the 5 o'clock Club." It was a sixteen-man team that was headed by Johnson aides Myer "Mike" Feldman and Fred Dutton. Feldman reported directly to Johnson on the team's activities. This group—which met twice a day—monitored Goldwater's statements and positions and prepared various "books" that captured all of his ripe material. The 5 o'clock'ers also engaged in other more questionable activity such as feeding hostile questions to reporters covering Goldwater and otherwise trying to manipulate the mainstream media treatment of the senator.[ 34 ]

Lloyd Wright recalled for CONELRAD the formal advertising plan against Goldwater: "Our strategy was to open with what we called ‘anti-Goldwater' to put him on the defensive and show him for what we thought were his weaknesses and then go into a pro-Johnson and then a ‘get out the vote.' Those were the three stages. And those stages became quite changed in reach and tenure because of the impacts of the opening effort. We didn't need to continue—we felt—as long a time on the anti-Goldwater phase and that was partially a result of the impact of the Daisy commercial."

To aid DDB, the fruits of the 5 o'clock Club's opposition research and all of the other ancillary ammunition collected against Goldwater was provided to the advertising team.

"We were given a big blue book of all of Goldwater's speeches from, I guess, from the time he started," Sid Myers told CONELRAD. "And we were given themes. The most important was nuclear responsibility because at the time he (Goldwater) was saying we should use tactical nuclear weapons in Vietnam. And the war on poverty and Social Security. Those were the big three campaign issues that we were working on."

With the thematic guidance from the White House, DDB began the process of coming up with ideas and then presenting them to Wright, Moyers and others. Internal documents from the agency obtained by CONELRAD reflect a highly organized approach: from strategy memos to concept and storyboard approval to television production approval through advertising time budgets. In some instances a commercial concept is reflected in certain memos as having been "killed." One example of this type of action is for a spot titled "Kremlin Men's Room" that probably would have been too comical for a presidential campaign so concerned with dealing with the end of the world. The ad was declared "killed" in an August 4th DDB memo.[ 35 ]

Secretary of Labor Willard WirtzMyers described the campaign atmosphere as extremely busy: "We worked day and night. We were traveling back forth to Washington on the train, staying at the White House, having brainstorming sessions with Lloyd Wright and Bill Moyers." Two of the President's cabinet members were even drafted—in highly unusual ways—into the effort. "One night I remember we were working late and two things happened," recalled Myers. "One is that the Secretary of LaborSecretary of Health Celebrezze, 1962 (Willard Wirtz) was there and he was the only one really who wasn't participating in what we were doing so we sent him out for Chinese food. And also, the Secretary of Health—I don't know who that was at the time—was giving out—maybe I shouldn't say this—was giving out uppers so we could stay up and work through the night."[ 36 ]

Wright remembered the environment as being more staid: "Well, when I was with them (DDB), it wasn't hustle bustle. It was very determined and focused. Very dedicated and professional and committed to the success of the campaign."

For Myers, one of the major highlights of working on the campaign was meeting President Johnson. "He's a massive guy," Myers marveled all these years later. "I mean I'm a big guy, I'm six foot, but he towered over me... South Lawn of the White House following a taping session with LBJ in 1964; Left to right: George Abraham, assistant account executive; Lloyd Wright, campaign media coordinator, Lee Tredanari and Aaron Ehrlich DDB TV Producers; James H. Graham, Account Exec.We were kind of like ushered in and he shook my hand and said 'You guys are doing a great job, blah, blah, blah' and that was the end of it—he was gone."

The DDB team also had the honor of being at the White House during a significant event in Cold War history. Myers revealed: "And we were there the day of the Gulf of Tonkin (Incident). We were there and we were going down for a meeting with Lloyd Wright or Bill Moyers and all of a sudden people are running around, back and forth and all of sudden cars started coming up the driveway of the White House and we were kind of like left alone. Everybody dropped us and kept running back and forth. Someone came to us and said, ‘sorry you all have to leave. We have an emergency...' and we left and we didn't know what it was at the time and that was the day that the Gulf of Tonkin (Incident) happened."[ 37 ]

On August 12, 1964 Goldwater held a highly publicized GOP unity conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania that included former President Dwight Eisenhower and former Vice President Richard Nixon among other party elite. The meeting sought to allay the fears of mainstream Republicans and better position Goldwater for the general election campaign. To that end, Goldwater promised that he would consult Eisenhower and Nixon on key cabinet appointments should he be elected. The GOP nominee clarified in his speech prior to the meeting whose backing he did not want: "I seek the support of no extremist—of the left or the Right." He added that he and his running mate William E. Miller "repudiate character assassins, vigilantes, Communists and any other group such as the Ku Klux Klan that seek to impose its views through terror of threat and violence."

In a news conference that followed the unity meeting President Eisenhower confirmed to the press that he had had reservations about Goldwater's candidacy, but was now "satisfied." The coverage of the event made a major impression on the Johnson campaign staff who became concerned that Goldwater might find success in reinventing himself. The following day, August 13th, Wright fired off a memo to Moyers urging him to provide a total budget figure in order to launch the Johnson ad campaign "earlier than conceived." Wright warned Moyers: "If we fail to do this, he (Goldwater) will have freedom to pursue the course launched yesterday at the Unity Conference—appearing to moderate his stands and assume the offensive in the campaign."[ 39 ]

On August 17th Moyers received another urgent letter, this time from William Bernbach, who minced no words. The letter conveys the seriousness of the campaign so starkly, that it is presented here in its entirety (The observant reader will note that Bernbach invokes the campaign's "stakes are too high" slogan to underscore the gravity of his message.):

Dear Bill:

If a decision isn't taken immediately to activate the television advertising plans, there might be serious consequences to the campaign. This is no time for me to be tactful with you. There is too much at stake.

No one knows better than you why we took on the Presidential campaign. There is only one reason. We are ardent Democrats who are deadly afraid of Goldwater and feel that the world must be handed a Johnson landslide. To play our small part in the achievement of such a victory we risked the possible resentment of some of our giant Republican clients (I personally told one it was none of his business when he phoned me about our action) and we had to turn away companies who wanted to give us their accounts on a long term basis. Two of the other agencies you were considering withdrew out of fear of their clients. A third agency blithely withdrew and took the Goldwater account.

I tell you all this only to emphasize that we are dedicated people and that our recommendations have a single motivation, not how much money can Doyle Dane Bernbach make, but what is necessary to do the job well. For anyone in your organization who is not a communications expert to pass on our plan is a great mistake. The decision must be made on the same basis that Secretary McNamara said the Defense budget decision was made: "What arms do we need to be the strongest nations [sic] in the world. Then, and only then, see how we can achieve our goal." Our plans were made with expert knowledge of what it takes to saturate the nation with the Democratic message. Ignorance in these matters can lead to waste and even disaster.

It is dangerous to think that because Lyndon Johnson is the President of the United States, he will get enough exposure through news coverage to assure him election in November. I don't have to remind you that an exposure on TV or radio or a quote in the nation's press is not necessarily a call to action.

The recommendation, at the volume originally agreed upon, was set as a maximum effort – an ideal campaign. The thought being to permit you to trim where necessary in the interest of political or financial necessity.

I understand you now feel we should suspend all ordering and production on everything we have recommended except the network time already purchased.

We consider the local spot TV and spot radio as absolutely essential to the goal of commanding the necessary share of mind required to get the vote we need for President Johnson in November.

I refer you to the attached media flow chart. Everything not currently on non cancellable order with the networks is crossed out in red. It is immediately apparent that the remaining schedule is grossly inadequate for the eight week period of the campaign. The stakes are just too high to neglect taking maximum advantage of a medium that reaches 92.5% of all homes in the United States. There is no denying the influence television had on the last election; and in 1964 there are 8,550,000 more television sets in use in this country than there were in 1960.

I urgently request that you reconsider and permit us to proceed on the original recommendation at once. If it is necessary to make some adjustment because of financial necessity we will work with you on making a realistic adjustment. The need for immediate action can't be expressed too strongly. Assuming agreement on a spot TV and spot radio schedule next week, and assuming the necessary money being released for use at the same time, the earliest nationwide air date we can make would be the third week of September. This is inflexible. The simple logistics of purchasing, production and shipping preclude any miracles in shortening the time needed.

We agreed that a very necessary part of the campaign is that part devoted to exposing to the voting public the absurd, contradictory and dangerous nature of the opposition candidate. It was agreed that this part of the campaign should be undertaken immediately following our Convention. It is already apparent that Barry Goldwater is making every effort to adjust his extreme position to one more acceptable. Knowing the short memory of the average person, it is entirely possible he might succeed in creating a new character for himself if we are unable to remind people of the truth about this man.

If a decision is delayed until after the Convention, it is obvious that the action resulting from that decision might be "too little and too late."

I urge your immediate attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

William Bernbach[ 40 ]

It was the end of the month before Moyers could write to DNC treasurer Dick Maguire and inform him that "the President asked us to proceed with an advertising campaign that would include not only the planned network effort of almost $2 million, but also an additional expenditure of $2 ½ million for local TV throughout the country..." Moyers also conveyed that Johnson was willing to volunteer himself and his running mate Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey to participate in additional fund raising dinners if necessary: "Five for him (Johnson), ten for Humphrey."[ 41 ]

The stage was now set for the formal campaign to begin.

Continue to PART TWO: THE MEN WHO MADE DAISY
Jump to PART THREE: DETONATING DAISY

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