Going Negative.

Going Negative.
September 26, 2016
Majority Strategies

Clever slogans have always played a major – and memorable – role in advertising, from political campaigns to brands.

Whether persuading consumers or voters, you want to be remembered, and you want your competition to be remembered, too, albeit in a different light.

When a campaign decides to “go negative,” the attack ads start dropping. Attack campaign ads started airing on TV in the early ‘50s, just as televisions were popping up in homes across the country, and long before that, slogans were used on buttons and posters, banners and eventually mail, to deliver the “hit.”

Here are some of our favorite slogans from the presidential trail and the history behind them:

1884: James Blaine vs. Grover Cleveland

“Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?”

As soon as Blaine’s campaign team discovered Grover Cleveland, their formidable opponent, had fathered an illegitimate child, they crafted the “Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?” slogan. Cleveland countered with a simple “To the White House – ha, ha, ha!”  Supporters also crafted another catchy slogan: ‘Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the Continental Liar from the State of Maine!” Despite the controversy, Cleveland took the White House.

1920: Warren Harding vs. James Cox

“Cox and Cocktails.”

Prohibition was a hot topic in 1920 and Cox opposed it, claiming that a ban on alcohol only made bootleggers richer. Harding seized on the opportunity to attack his competitor by pairing “Cox and Cocktails” and eventually, winning the election.

1936: Franklin Roosevelt vs. Alfred Landon

“Sunflowers Die in November”

To play up his “heartland roots,” Kansas Governor Alfred Landon branded sunflowers on all his campaign gear. FDR’s camp didn’t mince words, reminding voters that “Sunflowers Die in November.” The election results proved them right, with Landon even losing his home state.

1964: Barry Goldwater vs. Lyndon B. Johnson

“In Your Guts, You Know He’s Nuts."

Goldwater’s slogan, “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right,” struck a chord with supporters. The Democrats, however, responded with a slogan that branded Goldwater as an extremist: “In Your Guts, You Know He’s Nuts.” Johnson was victorious that November.

Our brand of contrast and attack messaging taps into emotions – sadness, anger, often humor – to cut through the clutter of the mailbox or mobile screen and create a message that catches and holds attention.

Get started with us today.

Learn More About the Art of Voter Contact:

GOTV: Get in the Ground Game

Political Advertising 2.0: Beyond the Red, White and Blue

Top Campaign Lessons from House of Cards: "I have not patience for useless things."