Segments in this Video

Candidates and the Public (03:32)


Host Bill Moyers talks about the evolution of candidates' connections with the public during election time. The most influential man in television commercials is Rosser Reeves, an advertising executive.

Successful Ad Campaign (03:31)

Ad executive Rosser Reeves describes the effects of the Anacin ads. It was the beginning of television ads, and this ad relied on repetition and driving its point home.

Ad Campaign for Dwight Eisenhower (04:58)

Any successful ad campaign expresses simple ideas over and over again. To "sell" Eisenhower on television, the ad men distilled the general's platform issues into three points. Archival film footage shows some of Eisenhower's ads.

1952 Eisenhower-Stevenson Campaign (03:43)

In the 1952 Presidential campaign, Ike had music of Irving Berlin and animation from the Disney studios. Adlai Stevenson has less exciting music. The candidate didn't care for television, preferring instead to deliver speeches.

1956 Eisenhower-Stevenson Campaign (03:50)

In 1956, the Democrats try to fight the popular man from Aberdeen with the man from Libertyville, Adlai Stevenson. His new image is more folksy and down-to-earth. Archival film footage shows competing ads for Presidential candidates.

JFK's Presidential Campaign (04:13)

By 1960, politics is ready to move to a brand new stage. Kennedy uses television to his advantage, speaking to and with people from all walks of life. Nixon uses television less than Kennedy. The Nixon-Kennedy television debate is disastrous for Nixon.

1964: Johnson vs. Goldwater Campaign (04:04)

Senator Goldwater moves too far to the right to please most Republicans. The split in the Republican Party over the candidate weakens the Party's chances. Ron Reagan supports Goldwater in television spots.

Media Specialist (04:12)

Tony Schwartz is among the first of a new class of players in presidential politics--the media specialist. Host Bill Moyers and he discuss the "deep sell" technique used by Schwartz.

Impact of Television on Politics (06:01)

The advent of television as an active participant in political elections changes everything. Parties are no longer the major communication force--the networks are. Tony Schwartz explains his philosophy of commercials.

1968 Nixon-Humphrey Campaign (04:10)

Television spots show the negative sides of candidates, and the Vietnam War is at the center of most ads. A nation divided has to choose who would get America out of the war.

1972 McGovern-Nixon Campaign (05:40)

Ad Executive Tony Schwartz discusses how McGovern's campaign could have been refocused through effective ads that might have put him in the White House.

1976 Ford-Carter Campaign (02:36)

Television spots bring candidates into contact with millions of people. The idea of shaking hands with people is obsolete given the exposure television offers.

Political Television Spots (03:06)

Political spots enable candidates to choose their message on their terms. They are not left to the mercy of newspaper editors or television producers. A politician can get his message across in 30-second spots. Moyers' commentary is included.

Credits: The 30-Second President (01:19)

Credits: The 30-Second President

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The 30-Second President

Part of the Series : A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $149.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $224.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



No single force has changed American politics more than television—especially the television commercial. In this program, Bill Moyers examines the phenomenon of the “30-second president” and the role of advertising in 20th-century American politics. The video features an interview with Rosser Reeves, an advertising executive who worked on early political television campaigns for Dwight D. Eisenhower. Moyers also talks with media pioneer Tony Schwartz, whom Marshall McLuhan regarded as a fellow guru of the electronic age, for further insight into the impact of television on electoral politics. (57 minutes)

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL42070

ISBN: 978-1-62102-064-6

Copyright date: ©1984

Closed Captioned

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