Archive for April, 2009

Review: Community Change Healthcare

April 23, 2009

We’re going to be seeing a lot of health care ads as the battle to finally pass comprehensive health care for all Americans heats up.   I usually like to find something good to say about a video.

The Good

So here goes:  This video is provocative, and I’ll give it points for at least trying to do something to get attention.  The shot of the stethoscope on the wallet is memorable, and in the right context could become a symbolic foundation for the push to pass universal coverage.

Unfortunately, that’s all the positive I can find.  Health care is an important issue in the lives of many Americans — especially those without coverage.  This video seems to trivialize it, confusing shock value for emotional resonance.  As a concept it fails the critical test in that it is disconnected from the core message they’re trying to convey.

The Bad

In addition, it’s poorly executed.  I understand stretched budgets, and the fact is that a good compelling story should overcome any technical or execution deficiencies.  These days there are plenty of good-looking cheap formats that could have been used; I think my ZI-6 shoots better video than we see here.  A short video doesn’t excuse poor acting. This is seduction, really? Seriously?  Maybe it’s a moot point, but again if you’re going to go in this direction, you better do a damn better job.

The message is clear: insurance companies getting in between you and your doctor. Pretty simple. But there’s no connection, no emotion by the point you get to that point.  Again, if you had created some emotion, gotten the audience to invest in the story you were telling at the start, when you get to the stethoscope on wallet shot, that could have been a powerful kick in the teeth, with almost no additional commentary needed… Instead the shot goes wasted.

Final Grade:

Form (on a scale A-F): F

From concept to execution, this is a mess.  It’s a gimmick that doesn’t help drive its message, so it becomes a bad gimmick, badly done.

Function: (on a scale A-F): D

Its message is clear at least, and the shot of the wallet does make a statement. But I’m not sure if anyone would stick around for it or even care about it when we got there.

Final Grade: (on a scale A-F): D-

I would have given this video an F because it really does fail to achieve anything of substance, but the wallet shot redeems somewhat. But a bad execution of a bad concept is especially harmful on an issue as important as this one.  All it does it set the cause back.

Welcome to Ad Nauseum

April 16, 2009

Welcome to Ad Nauseum. For a blog about political video and ads, that’s not such a creative welcome. Hopefully it’ll get better from here.

The story how this blog was inspired goes something like this: I was having lunch with a friend of mine last week discussing my new company, Rabin Strasberg Media, and what I thought we could add to the glut of political media.  In the course of our conversation, discussing videos and ads we liked and disliked, he said something like, “You know, you should write a blog about this stuff.”

My first reaction was, who would read a blog that I wrote?  Well, my mom — except she doesn’t even know that the internet is a series of tubes.  So I put that aside for a moment.

Then I thought, what would I say? Well, that part was a lot easier; I always have something to say about what I see out there — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and there’s a lot of ugly out there these days.

A last note: I’m not here to rip on people or their work, though I will certainly give an honest critique. Frankly, I want to be inspired, I want to be moved by what I see, but all too often I’m left either empty or shaking my head. Maybe this is my attempt to raise the craft of political media, to make ads everyone can be proud of.

I read this quote in the wonderful book on advertising, “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This.” Steve Hayden, who wrote the Apple 1984 ad, said, “If you want to be a well paid copywriter, please your client. If you want to be an award winning copywriter, please yourself. If you want to be a great copywriter, please your reader.”

Greatness is something we can all aspire to.


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