“The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2004” is an innovative new online exhibit from the American Museum of the Moving Image. The exhibit displays more than 250 television commercials from every presidential campaign year since 1952. The site includes a searchable database and features commentary, historical background, election results, and navigation organized by both year and theme. “This timely exhibition comes during a year when the major parties will spend hundreds of millions of dollars creating and airing commercials,” says Rochelle Slovin, director of the museum. It “combines the museum’s three key subjects–film, television, and digital media–to create an exhibition that is entertaining and educational.” The exhibition, which demonstrates how advertising techniques and styles have evolved over the years, even as the basic strategy has remained the same, includes such landmark ads as the groundbreaking “Eisenhower Answers America” spots of 1952, the notorious “daisy girl” ad from Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 campaign, Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” ads from 1984, and the controversial attack ads run by George H. W. Bush’s 1988 campaign. The exhibition is completely up to date, with a selection of commercials from 2004, and includes a sidebar exhibition called “The Desktop Candidate,” about the rapidly growing medium of web-based political advertising.

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