Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2008

eisenhower campaign commercial
Fri 19 2008

The Museum of the Moving Image presents The Living Room Candidate, an online film exhibit of campaign commercials from Dwight Eisenhower through the current election, highlighting issues from bomb shelters to race to economics, war, and poverty.

As David Schwartz, Chief Curator of the Museum of the Moving Image, explains in his introduction to Curator's Choice selections,

An effective campaign commercial works on several levels. It must make an effective argument, either for or against a candidate. It must work on an artistic level, using the tools and techniques of filmmaking to capture viewers' attention and stay in their memory. And it must work on an emotional level, creating a connection with the voter. While a strong advertising campaign does not guarantee election, it often does indicate which candidate has a clearer and more effective message. It is not surprising, therefore, that in most years, the best ads also happen to be in support of the winning candidates.

The site is directed toward high school students and educators and includes eight lesson plans on topics such as the language of political ads, television advertising, an analysis of the political ad as a mini-film, and a session on the process of producing a political commercial.

The Museum plans to continue to add lesson plans and interactive activities for classroom use or independent study.

About the Author

Lee Ann Ghajar is a digital history associate in Public Projects at CHNM and a PhD candidate in American history at George Mason University.