Archive for November, 2009

Best Health Care Ad EVER!

November 15, 2009

At film school they always tried to teach us “show, don’t tell.”

Case and point: This ad.  It does a lovely job of storytelling, using details, the procedure of moving, and mystery — what’s the punchline of the ad going to be, where’s this going.

They don’t try to cram a minute’s worth of message at you, instead they give you 45 seconds of a story, a compelling one at that, then five seconds of message (of course, you could argue the story is part of the message, which is true, but misses the point somewhat).

If I had to quibble it would be with the fact that the message is so tepid after such a big build up.  Yes, “No one should lose everything because the are denied health coverage,” is great, but the second card, “Tell your senators to support consensus health care reform,” is so vague as to be meaningless.  I feel like they had me in the palm of their hand, but I’m not clear what they want from me.  Maybe that’s more than a quibble.  I also might have put those cards up over a blurred scene of the couple interacting in the background.

Still, this ad is the best one I’ve seen on health care, and I think well after the debate is over and a bill is passed (or not), I’ll probably remember it.  It’s smart and emotional without being melodramatic, and it delivers it’s message about losing everything very elegantly, without ever tipping it’s hand too overtly (this is a health care ad, watch now, listen now).

 

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The Message and the messenger

November 10, 2009

I try to keep my politics out of how I view an ad, and while I know that’s not really possible (our unconscious brains are constantly providing commentary on the world in the form of “feelings” that bubble up into consciousness), I at least try not to judge an ad on where its message falls on the political spectrum.

With this ad though it’s really tough.  Not sure why, but I hate this ad.  It’s an obvious parody of the Apple Mac/PC ads, but it’s a really bad parody.  It has none of the wit or whimsy that makes those ads so clever and cutting. In the original ads, the PC guy is likable, here m the Government run health care plan guy is especially annoying, and even the girl is annoying.  I don’t really find either of them likable at all. The acting is pretty weak too.

(Here’s a tip about actors, always find people who can act first, then worry about if they “look” the part.  I’ve seem more bad casting because someone who can’t act is given a part because they look like

But I worry, is it the message of the ad that rubs me the wrong way, or the messenger, the ad itself?  Am I just coming up with a rationale to make sense of my feeling of hate?

I don’t know (and probably can’t know without years of therapy), but bad execution really rubs me the wrong way, and this ad feels like they ripped off the form without really having an understanding of how it worked.  It has the rhythm of the original, the look (though it’s a pretty weak green screen floor), but it’s a little like listening to a schizophrenic talk, he uses real words, but put together they’re gibberish.

And on top of that it ends so abruptly.

The King is dead…, Long Live the King.

November 6, 2009

Well the 2009 elections are over, and while I only focused a little of my attention on those ads, the passing of election day marks a low tide mark in the off-year.  I’ll continue to post at least once a week, more if I see things of interest that I want to pass along.

Still, with 2009 in the rear view mirror, the 2010 elections are now in our sights along with the health care fight, and the probably climate bill coming up at the end of the year, so there will be political ads out there to discuss.

Take for example this ad from embattled Governor of New York, David Patterson:

Patterson also has another ad running. What I like about both ads is that they don’t pussyfoot around with Patterson’s situation. He’s made mistakes, he’s been heavily criticized, he’s unpopular right now — you can ignore those problems, try to dance around them with your advertising or face them, head on.  I prefer the later approach, which is why I like these ads.

First of all in this ad, “Some Say,” I find Patterson appealing, surprisingly quietly confident and well spoken.  Maybe he conveys these qualities all the time, but in my limited expose to him, I’ve never thought of him as such, more of a walking train wreck.  I appreciate how he tries to turn his negative (people say he shouldn’t run for governor) into a strength — strength of character, strength of leadership.

In that way, it reminds of me of the Inhofe spot I posted about, “One man in America.”

Secondly, it seems honest.  He’s not defensive or aggressively pushing back, just talking to voters calmly, humbly, but also with a strength that’s appealing.

The visual style reinforces this message, not too flashy, simple clean, not too flashy.  There’s a subtle push in to him at the end, it brings the viewer closer to the subject.  Underscoring the tone of the spot, it doesn’t draw attention to itself, but it’s effective in reinforcing the emotional subtext of the spot: Patterson’s not flashy, he’s about the people, he’s appealing, he’s not trying to fool you but speaking plainly and honestly.

I wonder if Patterson’ blindness is a benefit in this situation.  He can’t read the spot off a prompter like most politicians would be forced to do.  He’s had to memorize it (so it seems), and I think because of that fact, he delivers the lines instead of repeats or reads them.  I’ll be interested to see if he can continue to deliver lines like this in future ads, but it’s obvious I was impressed with his performance (and make no mistake, any time a politician is talking into the camera it’s a performance, to quote Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts…”)

The second spot is a narrator driven bio, but echoes the same themes, he’s made mistakes, he’s put the people first, strength of character, leadership.

With the echoes of Corzine’s loss in the Jersey governor’s race, I can’t help but wonder if he could have turned things around if he had taken a similar approach.  It’s bold to put a candidate with a negative approval rating in the front of your spot.  Think about those Dodd spots from this summer. The Senator barely appears in them.

I think the Dodd/Corzine approach adds to the siege mentality, it’s a losing frame of mind, a defensive approach, that tries to ignore the elephant in the room rather than make the elephant a positive (who wouldn’t want an elephant to clean up all the peanuts) or at least admit what everyone else knows (there’s an elephant here, I know I brought it into this room, and I’m going to do everything I can to get it out — anyone have a mouse).

Politics like sports can’t be played not to lose, you always have to play to win.  You never worry about how many outs you need, only how many you have.  Don’t worry about your negatives, worry how to turn those negatives into positives.

Patterson is obviously playing to win here. And while he has hurdles to overcome — bad economy, a potential popular primary opponent (Cuomo), a tough economy and dysfunctional legislature, he’s off to a good start with these ads.

If I was giving this ad a grade it would probably be a B+/A-.  A solid A for messaging (form) and a B for function, it’s not innovative, but its professional and effective.

Politico piece on Health Care Ads

November 2, 2009

Interesting article today in Politico talking about health care ads.

I’ll try to write more when I get more time, but it’s interesting, and echoes some of the things I’ve talked about here.


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