Daisy, sometimes known as Daisy Girl or Peace Little Girl, was a controversial campaign television advertisement. Though aired only once (by the campaign), during a September 7, 1964, telecast of David and Bathsheba on The NBC Monday Movie, it was a factor in Lyndon B. Johnson’s defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election and an important turning point in political and advertising history. Its creator was Tony Schwartz of Doyle Dane Bernbach. It remains one of the most controversial political advertisements ever made.
The advertisement begins with a little girl (Birgitte Olsen) standing in a meadow with chirping birds, picking the petals of a daisy while counting each petal slowly. (Because she does not know her numbers perfectly, she repeats some and says others in the wrong order, all of which adds to her childish appeal.) When she reaches “9”, an ominous-sounding male voice is then heard counting down a missile launch, and as the girl’s eyes turn toward something she sees in the sky, the camera zooms in until her pupil fills the screen, blacking it out. When the countdown reaches zero, the blackness is replaced by the flash and mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion.