“Windsurfing,” 2004
George W. Bush (R) vs. John Kerry (D)
Using video footage of Kerry windsurfing off the coast of Nantucket, Bush portrayed him as an unreliable “flip-flopper.”

Studies show that when it comes to political advertising, we feel first and think later. So the most impactful campaign ads aim for our hearts—fear, anger, hope and pride—and they run the gamut from stirring to downright dirty. I Approve This Message, an exhibition about the emotional impact of political advertising in a landscape altered by the internet, was scheduled to open at the New-York Historical Society in September 2020. The COVID-19 lockdown halted those plans, but we want to share a few of the exhibition’s ads, particularly as we head towards election day on Nov. 3, 2020.

The Birth of Election Ads and 9 Classic TV Spots, read more:

“I Approve This Message”: The Birth of TV Campaign Ads and 9 Presidential Election Classics

Generous support for exhibitions that address the cornerstones of citizenship and American democracy provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and HISTORY.

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Seymour Neuman Endowed Fund, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.