In case you haven’t tired of political advertising rhetoric, now you can catch up on campaign commercials of yesteryear. The Living Room Candidate offers an archive of presidential political TV ads from 1952 to the present. Want a refresher on Perot’s platform in 1992? Curious about the evolution of negative campaigning? Still waiting to see the famous Lyndon Johnson “Daisy Girl” ad complete with mushroom cloud? All are available on this site produced by the Museum of the Moving Image.
All cynicism aside, I had the privilege last week to hear a presentation by Carl Goodman, Senior Deputy Director at the museum, and then to speak with him afterward about The Living Room Candidate. Goodman’s got the right idea with online video distribution. Rather than just throw some video up on a site, his team is making the most out of the context they can provide around their video clips. The Living Room Candidate lets you search for ads by category, keyword, year, and type of commercial, and provides important details like campaign analysis and election results. In addition, the site has created “curated pathways”, which are commercial playlists illustrating different themes – like a party’s history with attack ads. And you can even create your own playlists if you’re a dedicated political junkie or a teacher looking for classroom material.
Even though The Living Room Candidate is a non-profit venture, its use of online video translates well to the for-profit sector. Want to engage viewers online? Give them the kind of context they can’t get on traditional TV – whether it’s baseball stats, actor bios, a guided tour of vacation hotspots, or, in the fall of an election year, presidential analysis.