Earliest Political Ad from 1912 Shows Not Much Has Changed in the Past 100 Years

Earliest Political Ad from 1912 Shows Not Much Has Changed in the Past 100 Years

Aug 28, 2012

President Woodrow WilsonAs the Republican National Convention gets under way in Tampa, it signals not only the official start of Obama vs. Romney, but the opening of the floodgates for vicious political attack ads. Between now and November, our airwaves will be overrun by outrageous ads from both parties telling you why the other guy is sure to ruin the American Dream as we know it. We all like to think that campaign commercials wherein one candidate tears into another are a relatively recent phenomenon, but as our friends at Film School Rejects point out, this has been going on for a century.

The site stumbled across this very cool 1912 silent film -- titled The Old Way and the New -- promoting Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson as the right choice in his campaign against Republican incumbent William Howard Taft. In the days before television, the ads were presented as short films. This one runs for roughly eight minutes.

It’s interesting to note that not much has changed in the last 100 years. The short portrays Taft as the proverbial “fat cat” who is more concerned about special interests than the common man. Wilson, meanwhile, is presented as a man of the people.

We love the fact that the film is silent – in fact, we wish all political advertisements were still aired that way. The ad must have been at least somewhat effective since Wilson won the election.

Check out the short below.

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