Well, apparently you can actually fit 27 mentions of a name in a one-minute ad -- that’s what John F. Kennedy’s campaign managed to do in the 1960 Presidential race. As if being young and handsome wasn’t already enough, John F. Kennedy boosted his popularity further with this infectious campaign jingle.
The ad opens with female voices repeatedly singing Kennedy’s name to a tune that is upbeat, chipper and catchy. Images of cheerful Americans interspersed with headshots of the super suave Kennedy helped turn his youth into an asset. The song describes the candidate as someone who is “old enough to know and young enough to do.”
The 1960 Presidential election had one of the closest margins in U.S. history. JFK beat Richard Nixon by 118,550 out of 69 million votes. This race was one of the first in which television played a pivotal role in shaping public opinion. Over 80% of US households had a television and people began to rely on TV more than radio.
Who can forget the 1960 Presidential debate? JFK’s on-screen charisma outshined the sweaty, sickly, recently-hospitalized Nixon. Interestingly, the majority of people who had listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon won while the opposite held true for those who had watched it on TV. Thus, the 1960 presidential election marked a critical transition period -- candidates were no longer judged solely on the basis of their ideas. In the wake of the increased popularity of television, how candidates presented themselves and their ideas mattered much more -- the gift wrap mattered just as much as the package.
This jingle, which capitalized on the increasing popularity of television, was a crucial element of JFK’s successful 1960 presidential campaign.
Interestingly, it was about the same period as this ad that authors like Marshall McLuhan began to form their theories about the “Media as the Message.” They saw “cool” candidates like Kennedy as just right for the “cool” medium of television.
And who can argue – more than 50 years later, Kennedy is still pretty cool.
Did You Know? After winning the election in 1960 and realizing the importance of effective television ads, John F. Kennedy approached the advertising agency DDB for help with his re-election campaign. Unfortunately, he was tragically assassinated in 1963, so he never got the opportunity to run again. However, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson continued the relationship with DDB, and his collaboration with the agency ultimately resulted in the production of “Daisy Girl” during the 1964 election.
John F. Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected president, the only Catholic, and the first president born in the twentieth century.