The real problem with campaign ads today, Kurt Andersen thinks, isn’t that they’re mean, or contain fuzzy numbers. It’s that they’re boring. Why?
In the 1950s, when the first campaign commercials hit TV, they were created by the top advertising talent of Madison Avenue — starting with 1952’s catchy jingle for Dwight Eisenhower. In 1968, an ad famously belly-laughed at Spiro Agnew as a candidate for vice president. “The same people that would do great commercials for products and services would also do political commercials,” advertising veteran Bob Gardner tells Kurt. “But this ended a few decades ago. The political priesthood took over and they decided that Madison Avenue did not know how to do political ads, that political ads were a breed apart, and that was not the same thing as selling soap and toothpaste.”