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The Responsive Chord Paperback – September, 1974

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Editorial Reviews


Schwartz is original and intriguing; the book does strike a responsive chord. --New York Magazine

About the Author

Tony Schwartz, the acknowledged master of electronic media, has created more than 20,000 radio and television spots for products, political candidates and non-profit public interest groups. Featured on programs by Bill Moyers, Phil Donahue and Sixty Minutes, among others, Schwartz has been described as a "media guru", a "media genius" and a "media muscleman". The tobacco industry even VOLUNTARILY stopped their advertising on radio and television after Schwartz's produced the first anti-smoking ad to ever appear (children dressing in their parents' clothing, in front of a mirror). The American Cancer Society credits this ad, and others that followed, with the tobacco industry's decision to go off the air, rather than compete with Schwartz's ad campaign.

When Marshall McLuhan met Tony Schwartz, he said he met "a disciple with twenty years prior experience!" Later, McLuhan and Schwartz shared the Schweitzer Chair at Fordham University.

Credited with the single most effective and talked about ad ever produced, Tony Schwartz created the "daisy ad", as it has become known, to highlight the dangers of nuclear arms. It was used by the Johnson campaign in 1964 to clearly illustrate his position on the use of nuclear weapons. Considering the extensive discussion that the ad has sparked, it is remarkable that the ad ran only once.

Schwartz has created the media campaigns of over 200 candidates, including the winning 1976 presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, the 1964 Johnson presidential election, the campaigns of Abe Ribicoff (Connecticut) and Daniel Moynihan (New York), and selected campaigns of Tom Foley (Washington state), Mike Gravel (Alaska), Bob Hattfield (West Virginia), Edward Kennedy (Massachusetts) Tom Lantos (California), Warren Rudman (New Hampshire) and Andrew Young (Georgia), to name but a few.

For thirty one years (1945-1976) Schwartz created and produced a weekly radio program of people and sounds of New York on WNYC (AM & FM). For over 15 years he wrote a weekly column for Media Industry Newsletter (MIN). For many years he has been a Visiting Electronic professor at Harvard University's School of Public Health, teaching physicians how to use media to deal with public health problems. He is also teaching at New York University and Columbia and Emerson colleges. Because Schwartz is unable to travel distances, he delivers all out of town talks by 2-way telephone. Schwartz is a frequent lecturer at universities and conferences, and has given presentations on six of the seven continents (not Antarctica). He holds honorary doctorates from John Jay, Emerson and Stonehill Colleges.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 173 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First edition (September 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385088957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385088954
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #836,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tony Schwartz (1923-2008) was a sound archivist, media theorist and advertising creator. Considered a guru of the newly emerging "electronic media" by Marshall McLuhan, Schwartz ushered in a new age of media study in the 1970's. His works anticipated the end of the print-based media age, and pointed to a new electronic age of mass media. Known as the "wizard of sound," he is perhaps best known for his role in creating the controversial Daisy television ad for the 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign.

Schwartz began recording ambient sound and folk music, releasing many albums on Folkways Records and Columbia Records. One of his albums, "New York Taxi Driver," was among the first 100 recordings inducted into the U.S. National Recording Registry. From 1945 to 1976, Schwartz produced and hosted "Around New York" on WNYC.

He transitioned into advertising work in 1958 when approached by Johnson and Johnson about creating ads for their baby powder, because of his reputation for recording children. His resulting work is often credited as the first use of children's real voices in radio commercials (previously children had been portrayed by specially trained adults).
Briefly specializing in advertising using children, he soon broadened into general advertising, creating ads for such clients as Coca Cola, American Airlines, Chrysler, American Cancer Society, and Kodak.

Schwartz subsequently shifted his advertising work toward political campaigns. While continuing to create product ads, he created thousands of political ads for such candidates as Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

In a final transition in his career, he turned his energies toward public interest advertising for social causes. Early in his career he had created the first anti-smoking commercials for television and radio. In the 1980s he resumed these efforts, creating many anti-smoking commercials, as well as media work for such causes as fire prevention, AIDS awareness, educational funding and nuclear disarmament.

In 2007, Schwartz's entire body of work from 1947 to 1999, including field recordings and commercials, was acquired by the Library of Congress.

For more information, visit Tony Schwartz's web site.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first encountered Tony Schwartz in the early 1970s thanks to a remarkable grad school teacher named Ralph Baldwin. Following a symposium on media in New York City in which Tony demonstrated several examples of his work, Dr. Baldwin arranged for our small class (no more than 10 of us)to visit Tony in his studio. The visit was most impressive for one single point that he dramatically demonstrated, namely the difference between "sound" and "noise." "Noise," he explained is nothing more than "unwanted sound."
My copy of "The Responsive Chord" - purchased when it was first published - has been read and re-read to the point of delapidation. I have been working in advertising for more than 30 years and this book has been virtually my bible. I have lent it to students and collegues innumerable times. The reasons is simple: Tony's message goes to the heart of communication and persuasion. To reach a person and motivate him or her to respond to your message requires more than information, facts, and glitzy effects. Your message must "resonate" with the person. It must strike that "Responsive Chord" by connecting and touching your audience's whole matrix of beliefs, cultural identifiactions, opinions and values.
In this book, Tony Schwartz reveals completely, clearly and definitively his secret of success. And, in a way that inspires emulation and appreciation.
I can honestly say that my own work, when it has been most effective, whether in TV, radio, or print, has been the result of its reflection of Tony's principles as delineated in "The Responsive Chord.
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As a public health professional (who also took a course from Tony Schwartz, through Harvard), I've found this book invaluable. Anyone who thinks that just giving people facts will change attitudes and thus behavior needs to read this book and learn how the real world works.
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For me, the information in this book is as vital and relevant now as it was when it was published in 1973, for the same reason that the insights shared by Marshall McLuhan in his famous 1969 Playboy Magazine interview are still vital and relevant.

I really cannot talk about Tony Schwartz without mentioning Marshall McLuhan. For Schwartz, McLuhan was like what pure science is to applied technology. Schwartz essentially practiced what McLuhan preached and taught others to do the same.

Today Marshall McLuhan is mainly known for a statement he made and the title of a book he published in 1967 -- "The Medium Is The Message". It is tragic that so few people understand what he meant by this!

Before the Supreme Court decided to lift the ban on corporate spending, I would have chosen "unfortunate" instead of "tragic" to describe the possible impact of this lack of understanding. I also would have chosen "important" rather than "vital" to describe the relevance of the information contained in this book and McLuhan's interview.

McLuhan was more interested in enlightening people as regards how electronic media affects us, so we would not be manipulated by it:

"The extensions of man's consciousness induced by the electric media could conceivably usher in the millennium, but it also holds the potential for realizing the Anti-Christ -- Yeats' rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born. Cataclysmic environmental changes such as these are, in and of themselves, morally neutral; it is how we perceive them and react to them that will determine their ultimate psychic and social consequences.
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for anyone thinking of working in advertising and marketing, understand whats been done to you all thse years without knowing it.
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