Chapter 5: Branding candidates on TV
As soon as televisions were in American living rooms, politicians - including those running for president - began using commercial branding techniques to sell candidates to voters. As early as the Eisenhower 1952 campaign, techniques like the use of the jingle, “I like Ike” helped sell Ike to the electorate. These techniques would be used again and again to package successful candidates. JFK used the song “High Hopes” to sell himself to voters. Over time, campaigns also learned that a key ingredient for success was to brand political opponents as thoroughly unappealing or dangerous. In 1964, LBJ painted Goldwater as a madman with the “Daisy” ad, among others. TV even helped Nixon win in 1968. In 1988, George H.W. Bush painted his opponent Dukakis as pathologically soft on crime. And candidates who were not comfortable being marketed on TV, like Adlai Stevenson and Michael Dukakis, were at a significant electoral disadvantage.
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