The Ad That Helped Reagan Sell Good Times to an Uncertain Nation

The one-minute commercial commonly known as “Morning in America,” created for President Ronald Reagan’s re-election effort in 1984, is one of the most effective campaign spots ever broadcast. The ad’s haze of nostalgia and optimism helped obscure Mr. Reagan’s lingering political problems with the deficit and unemployment.

The scenes in “Morning” would have fit almost seamlessly into the 1950s sitcoms “Father Knows Best” or “Leave It to Beaver.” One difference is that the ad is rendered in soft, pastel colors similar to those used in “The Natural,” the Robert Redford baseball film also released that year.

.. The subtext is that after 20 years of social tumult, assassinations, riots, scandal, an unpopular war and gas lines, Mr. Reagan returned the United States to the tranquillity of the 1950s.

.. “Morning in America” and several other Reagan TV ads were written byHal Riney of Ogilvy & Mather in San Francisco. Known for his skill at appealing to the emotions, he was determined to demonstrate that negative political ads were not the only kind that worked.

.. Only 10 months before his re-election campaign began, Mr. Reagan’s Gallup Poll approval rating had dropped to 35 percent, equal to President Lyndon Johnson’s at its nadir during the Vietnam War.