Famous Attack Ads Throughout Political History

Remarkably, Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s campaign has produced almost no positive television advertising, other than a couple of ads featuring voters echoing Trump’s mantra, “Make America Great Again,” whatever that means. Beyond anger at the establishment, and rage at “political correctness” and illegal immigration, one wonders what his deeper campaign themes actually are.

He brags that the campaign is fueled by free or earned media, but much of that coverage has become harshly negative and I would say Trump’s campaign has lost control of building a positive image. It makes one doubt whether he has a positive message to offer, other than to try to create a dictator-like cult of personality around the leader’s pronouncements. On his web site, the videos posted primarily emphasize clips from the candidate’s speeches and interviews, and hard-bitten attacks on rivals.

LivingRoomCandidate.org: Presidential Campaign Commercials Since 1952, or the Museum of the Living Image online, offers great insight into how television advertising has shaped politics. It includes UPDATED LESSON PLANS FOR CLASSROOM USE. “The television commercial remains the one area where presidential candidates have complete control over their images. Television commercials use all the tools of fiction filmmaking, including script, visuals, editing, and performance, to distill a candidate’s major campaign themes into a few powerful images. Ads elicit emotional reactions, inspiring support for a candidate or raising doubts about his opponent.”

Famous Attack Ads in History, from 1952 to 2008


Some of the most memorable ads in political history are streamed here.

More on Ads and Images:


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