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Daisy Redux

May 22, 2009

The RNC has released a new ad about Guantanamo Bay that uses the most famous/infamous political ads (with the possible exception of Willie Horton or Swift Boat) to equate the closing of Guantanamo with a nuclear fallout.

This version doesn’t pack the punch that the original did.  The original version (below) aired only once in 1964 and is arguably one of the first pieces of paid media that received massive earned media (created purely to start a conversation in the news that carries on for free).  We live in a world now where far, far too many of the political ads that are put out are done purely to create buzz in the echo chamber of the cable news networks.  For those under 50, not a political pundit or student of political advertising, the daisy ad itself is probably not well enough known now to immediately evoke a reaction.  The effort with this ad is clearly to get people like Chris Matthews riled up and talking about it on air.  The conversation inevitably involves talk of both Guantanamo and nuclear weapons (the original focus of the ad)–a strong and scary image when thinking about terrorism.

All of that said, I think the ad is too disjointed to be much more than laughable.  The splicing of footage from today (color) with the nearly 50 year old footage of a girl picking a daisy is visually disjointed.  Further, the new voiceover  is clearly an adult woman’s voice and a phrase that has no context with the scene.  Rather than being scary, which the original was, this ad is just confusing for someone who doesn’t get the reference, and overdone for anyone who does.

Sadly, however, artistic merit and how it will be received by the public probably won’t be factored into whether or not Chris Matthew or Bill O’Reilly’s decide to play it endlessly.

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