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Morning in America: Political Ads That Changed the Game | Retro Report

Morning in America: Political Ads That Changed the Game | Retro Report


It’s morning again in America. The doors flew open at the end of the room
and in walks the President. And he looked at everybody and he said, “I hear you’re selling soap and I thought you’d want to see the package.” If we’re on the Death Valley Days set and
water’s not handy, Boraxo Waterless Hand Cleaner really cleans up for us. He was the perfect subject. From his years acting, he understood the lighting,
the theatrics. He understood what our role was as well, as
advertising people. But in the re-election campaign, Nancy Reagan
personally said, “I want a higher quality advertising, I don’t want the standard political fare. And so make that happen.” I had written a brief about the revival of
America after the four years of the Carter administration, where inflation had gotten so bad, and the economics of the country were in terrible shape. And in the early 80s, it was the beginning
of the 24/7 news cycle. That started to have an impact on the American
psyche. So it was important to find the optimism that
was still in most people, but they were starting to lose a grip on it. All of these Madison Avenue all-stars – most
of whom couldn’t care less about politics – were all competing to have an ad produced
for the campaign. The first approach is pretty straightforward. Hal Riney’s calling card was the storytelling,
and the folksiness. And Hal just got it square on the nose. It’s morning again in America, and under
the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder, and stronger, and better. Hal had the voice: it was the pack of Marlboros
and the bourbon voice. We call ‘em “warm and fuzzies.” Warm and fuzzy, and a little bit of slow-motion,
made me a lot of money. This afternoon, 6,500 young men and women
will be married. You look at that wedding scene, and you feel as if we’re really just trespassing on somebody’s wedding. But it was all staged, and it was just of
a higher quality and a higher standard than people would ever employ for a political ad. When I took the ads in to the president we
also looked at another spot that Hal did… There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all. Reagan particularly liked the Bear ad the
best, because it was about preparedness against the Russian behemoth. But the fact of the matter is, that bear ad
only ran one time. We never really needed it, “Prouder, Stronger, Better” was so strong it set the tone for our campaign. People were saying, “Oh, you’re just white-washing
everything.” You know, “everything’s not rainbows and
roses and puppy dogs and kittens.” Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign is high
on symbolism: the flag, the statue of liberty. He’s not mentioning any specific issues. He’s gliding along on the broadest and most
general themes. He’s campaigning by photo opportunity. But the fact is, we did articulate what people
felt. And this is why the term “morning in America”
has become part of the political vernacular. This is our morning in America! This was very much a “Morning in America”
speech. The point is that “it’s morning in America”
is a better sales pitch. It’s become a generic term, meaning different
things to different people, but it’s definitely a part of the American culture today.

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