Archive for September, 2009

Sigh…

September 14, 2009

Wow. They get points for trying, I guess. I mean I appreciate that they tried a conceptual script instead of the usual blah, blah, blah. But when you just take a narrator script and put it into an actor in a concept (in this case a “political consultant” talking to his candidate after losing), it just doesn’t work. If you’re going to go with the concept you got to go all the way, that’s not close to how real people speak, even political consultants.

On top of that, either this poor actor got bad direction or he’s not a good actor, but in any case, he seemed as phony as the dialogue.

On top of all that, it looks like a public access shoot, with all the good (and cheap) formats of video they have out there these days, why did they decide to shoot this one?

Do they really think this is going to win the day?

Bad acting, bad dialogue, and bad looking make for a bad execution, and I don’t have to guess, I know that makes for bad politics.

There’s such a fine line between stupid and clever Part II

September 11, 2009

Ok, I’m repeating myself, I know, but I can’t decide which side of the line this goes on:

On one hand, I appreciate trying a different ad, and I’ve talked about the power of metaphor before. This one is pretty good on those fronts.

On the other hand, it’s kinda goofy, and the production values are not great. Why does that matter? Well, people react to all sorts of things, often without knowing what they’re reacting too.

I think the production values of an ad matter in so far as they present the quality and character of a campaign. A cheap looking ad may work if it’s part of the charm (like this classic ad from Paul Wellstone — done by the same consultant as the Daggett ad) or message of the campaign.

A challenger’s ads that look crisp and great say that candidate is ready for the big leagues. (On the other hand, I always felt the Gore for President ads looked too nice and polished — for a guy with a truth problem, whether deserved or not, I thought the ads needed to look grittier and more real.) The form of the ad, has to follow the function.

Here I’m not sure the form is helping Daggett. He needs to make people think he’s a real candidate with a real chance, this feels a more like a college film school project than a real production. No matter what the message is, that can’t help Daggett or his campaign.

The lesson of Vietnam and a health care ad

September 10, 2009

There’s a story I’ve read in a couple of different places that goes something like this:

After the Vietnam War, an American Colonel sat down with his North Vietnamese counterpart. The American in a fit of pride said the United States had never been beaten on the battlefield. The Vietnamese General nodded and answered calmly, “That is true. It is also irrelevant.” (Quoted from “The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century“)

I can’t help but think about that lesson when watching this ad: It’s not winning battles that counts it’s winning the war. Ads are like battles sometimes, you can win the battle of exchanges, but maybe it takes you off your central message or weakens you in some way or just takes time and energy away from winning the war.

I think this is a pretty good ad for it’s type, and one I’m not usually inclined to like. The whole idea of corporate greed, just doesn’t play well with me, it usually feels petty — unless you can link it in a real way to an issue or make it mean something. I think they do that by personalizing it with Nataline’s story — “[she] only needed one.”

That’s a good line, and gosh it makes me mad at those insurance companies, and I don’t like them…, wait, I didn’t really trust or like them before this ad. That’s kind of the point, the ad does make me dislike the insurance companies more, but I’m not sure it makes me more inclined to support health care reform.

If the health care reform side keeps winning battles like this, it won’t be long before it loses the war completely.

Build & Reveal

September 9, 2009

It’s something we don’t do very often in political spots.

There’s a feeling you have to get right to the point, to cram everything in, after all you only have 30 or 60 seconds to make your point.

But I think that’s missing the point a surprise, something that breaks our guessing machines, sticks with you, it makes a point better than 30 seconds of fact filled copy ever can.

Why does this ad work, well it gets you interested, how do all these random scenes connect, then as they start revealing more information, we’re surprised. Those guys aren’t sleeping together, they’re defusing a bomb!

In the end the message, about a change in perspective aligns with what we know HBO, it reinforces and informs, it’s authentic (there’s that word again).

It’s not about quantity of message, it’s about quality.


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