– Cool use of jagged modernist style to convey unease.
– Amazing ending of 15 seconds of silence that forces you to look up to see if your TV is broken.
– There are virtually no blacks depicted in the ad. There might be two or three in the crowd scene behind the Independent Socialism banner, but more or less white males predominate in the imagery. Americans had invested heavily in colleges, only to be greeted with sit-ins halting education.
Here’s another one:
I remember in the 1970s being amazed to hear that during the 1940s my mother and my Aunt Kay would go to the movies downtown several times per week. The idea that women had once been free to walk and take public transit at night in the city was astonishing in the post-Great Society era.
More Nixon ads from 1968:
And here’s one about poor Hubert Horatio Humphrey that looks like it was directed by Hunter S. Thompson during a massive LSD freakout:
(Actually, Hunter S. Thompson’s only role in the Nixon campaign was Nixon picked Thompson to talk football one time when he needed to relax while campaigning in New Hampshire.)
Here’s a post-Democratic Convention ad:
One interesting aspect is that these Hitchcockian ads were clearly aimed at fairly sophisticated grown-ups, people who had loved “North by Northwest” and felt obligated to see “Psycho” but didn’t like it. The ads look a lot in style like the following years “Midnight Cowboy.” You constantly hear about Nixon’s Southern Strategy, but these ads are about as Northern as you can get.
In reality, in 1968’s three-way race, George Wallace carried white Southerners who wanted to restore Jim Crow in their mixed race small towns; Humphrey carried white Southerners in the Appalachians who lived in all-white communities; and Nixon carried white Southern suburbanites who wanted to put Jim Crow behind them and join modern America.