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'Daisy Ad' Creator Tony Schwartz Dies
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'Daisy Ad' Creator Tony Schwartz Dies

Remembrances

'Daisy Ad' Creator Tony Schwartz Dies

'Daisy Ad' Creator Tony Schwartz Dies
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Tony Schwartz, who helped create the memorable "daisy ad" that ran during the 1964 presidential race, has died at 84. The ad played on fears that Republican Barry Goldwater might use nuclear weapons if elected during the height of the Cold War.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Tony Schwartz, master of the radio ad, died yesterday. Schwartz created more than 20,000 radio and television spots for products, political candidates and public interest groups. He was 84 and had been suffering from heart problems. NPR's Margot Adler reports.

MARGOT ADLER: Tony Schwartz is perhaps most famous for his work on the daisy ad, a political spot against nuclear war, that ran only once during Lyndon Johnson's campaign against Barry Goldwater in 1964. Some say the ad, which started with a little girl counting the petals of a daisy, changed political advertising forever.

(Soundbite of political ad)

Unidentified Child: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, nine, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 10.

Unidentified Man: 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five...

ADLER: Tony Schwartz only worked on projects that interested him. He had a weekly program on public radio station WNYC for 31 years, and for many years was a visiting electronic professor at Harvard University's School of Public Health. He had agoraphobia and would generally not travel outside his New York City zip code, but people came to him. He created the media campaigns for President Jimmy Carter, for Daniel Moynihan, Ted Kennedy, Warren Rudman and Andrew Young, among others. Later in life, he produced a "A Citizen's Guide to Guerrilla Media," to show ordinary people how they could craft messages for radio and television very inexpensively and effectively, mostly by targeting small markets. As he told me, talking in his studio in 1988...

Mr. TONY SCHWARTZ (Radio Advertisement Writer): The first thing we have to recognize is that we have a fantastic gift on our side with the use of radio and human beings, and that is that people are born without ear lids. Therefore, what determines what they listen to? With everything going on that comes into them, they pay attention to the things that concern them. If they hear their name, if they hear a subject that they've been concerned with, they'll pay attention to it.

ADLER: Schwartz was the first to use natural sound in a commercial, the first to use children. But he never did anything he didn't believe in.

Mr. SCHWARTZ: I wouldn't do anything that I wouldn't be able to face my family or my children with.

ADLER: At bottom, Schwartz believed in the power of radio and in the power of citizens. He understood that radio was about ideas, a medium of the imagination more like books than television. Just think about that phrase: The thing about radio is people were born without ear lids.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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