Before every Super Bowl, over the last 25 years, we inevitably point to Apple’s 1984 as the “one-run” commercial that sets the bar for all other Super Bowl commercials.
But there was another one-run commercial that did more than build buzz off a major TV event -- it helped Lyndon Johnson stay in the White House. And it aired 45 years ago this week.
According to Time magazine:
”The most famous political campaign ad played only once, during a September 7, 1964 NBC Monday Night at the Movies broadcast. Referred to as "Daisy Girl," the ad — Lyndon Johnson's response to a statement by Republican candidate Barry Goldwater that he would consider using nuclear weapons in Vietnam — created an immediate controversy and was pulled from the air.
“But news organizations picked up the spot and ran it in their nightly news segments, increasing its influence by an order of magnitude. Daisy Girl is now credited with helping Johnson defeat Goldwater in the 1964 election.
The Stuff of which “Mad Men” is madeIn researching this post, I found a web site that digs deeply to explore the history behind this ad. It feels like an episode of Mad Men just waiting to happen. Ad history buffs should check it out.
People still wonder aloud if another 1984 spot will grace the Super Bowl -- where a single :30 second spot will cost $3 million this year.
But media and consumer habits have changed too dramatically in the last 10 years to get a one-run hit. Media fragmentation alone has impacted the likelihood of a TV event locking in an audience large enough to warrant a "one-run" investment. It will never happen.
Or will it?
The One-Run MisnomerThese one-run examples took place before an ad could go viral. But Daisy Girl and 1984 arguably did just that. How? The media helped propel Daisy and 1984 to their now historic perches in the :30 second spot hall of fame. Daisy Girl even wound up on the cover of Time magazine.
One-run is a misnomer when describing these ads. 45 years later viral also tends to be a misnomer. Much like one-run ads, viral is often pointed to as a goal. But viral is not a goal or a strategy. It's an outcome.
So we may see more examples of Daisy and 1984. But more than anything else we'll see examples of failed attempts at going viral...examples that probably failed for all the right reasons.