Tony Schwartz, who helped create the infamous “daisy ad” that ran only once during the 1964 presidential race but changed political advertising forever, has died. He was 84.
Schwartz died Sunday at his home in Manhattan, N.Y., said his daughter, Kayla Schwartz-Burridge. He had been suffering from heart valve stenosis.
Schwartz, who started his career as a graphic designer, collaborated with a team from the Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency to create the spot featuring a little girl counting aloud as she pulled the petals from a daisy.
And who is the little girl? I am pretty sure it’s Suzanne Crough who went on to play Tracy, the youngest daughter in The Partridge Family.
The ad made no mention of Johnson’s Republican opponent, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, but the implication was clear. After public criticism, it was withdrawn. Johnson went on to win, and the spot has been credited with ushering in an era of negative political ads.
“It was the first national Rorschach test,” Schwartz said in an interview with Newsday in 1992.
He worked on other campaigns, both for politicians and corporate clients, such as Coca-Cola and Chrysler. He also publicized the dangers of smoking in a series of commercials.
The author of two books — “The Responsive Chord” (1973) and “Media: The Second God” (1983) — he taught media studies at Harvard, New York, Columbia and Emerson universities. But because he suffered from agoraphobia, he relied on technology to teach from home, often giving lectures via telephone.