Remembering Tony Schwartz

Tony Schwartz, audio pioneer, media theorist and known as “The Wizard of Sound” died ten years ago. Tony created more than 20,000 radio and television spots for products, political candidates and non-profit public interest groups. His sound design work was the first to record on-the-street voices on records and commercials, establishing the importance of the audio imagery to influence audiences. 

One of his main causes was to eliminate advertising of cigarettes on TV and radio aimed at children.  He contributed directly to the tobacco industry’s stopping its advertising by producing the first anti-smoking ad to ever appear on any medium (see video below). The American Cancer Society credits this ad, and others that followed, with the tobacco industry’s stopping their ads and to declining use of cigarettes by young people. 

Schwartz is probably best-known for creating the “Daisy commercial” (also shown below.)  It’s one of the most controversial and impactful ads ever created. It aired on TV only once, but was shown on the news worldwide in 1964. The ad for President Lyndon Johnson was produced in response to Republican presidential opponent Barry Goldwater’s declaration that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Many media theorists and historians consider the ad one of the main reasons for Johnson’s overwhelming victory over Goldwater.

 Schwartz created media campaigns for over 200 candidates, including Jimmy Carter (1976) and many hundreds who went on to win elections, nationally and locally.  In the final years of his career, Schwartz turned his energies primarily toward social-awareness advertising, creating many anti-smoking commercials as well as spots for causes like fire prevention, AIDS awareness, auto safety, educational funding, and nuclear disarmament. His entire body of material is now housed in the archives of the Library of Congress after being deemed “culturally, historically, and aesthetically” significant.
His most famous and influential book was The Responsive Chord (1974.)  The website, tonyschwartz.org, contains his commercials, records and writings. 

This video was produced in 1989 by Skip Blumberg and Tom Weinberg and was shown, in part, on the PBS series The 90’s. “I visited with Tony more a dozen times in his wonderful archive and home-production space on the far West Side of Manhattan.  He was truly an inspiration and a mentor,” Tom says. 

 

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