Archive for May, 2010

Here’s what a billion dollars gets you these days

May 18, 2010

Jeff Greene is a billionaire, he’s running for US Senate in Florida, and this is his first Senate ads.

He’s an outsider, he’s not a politician.  Get it?

Yeah, right.  I’ve talked about the old rule of film making: Show don’t tell.  It’s a good thing to remember in ad making, anything you can show your audience is more powerful than telling them.

In the ad, Greene talks about politicians about being an outsider, what shows that?  The ad couldn’t be a more generic political ad.  Is there anything about the ad that says Greene is different, other than the voice over?  What evidence do they give that he’s different?  Why should anyone believe he’s different? It can’t be the background which looks like a Palm Beach mansion.

They have him reading from a teleprompter, and he’s doing a bad job at that. When will people learn, don’t make your candidate read from a prompter if they can’t do.  And certainly don’t put it on the air if your candidate stinks.

The more I think about this ad, the more it makes me angry.  Yesterday, I talked about the book, “Starting from Why.”  The Greene campaign could take a tip from that book, the ad spends a lot of time telling us WHAT Greene is and WHAT he’ll do.  They spend zero time telling us WHY — what does he stand for?  Why is he running?  The ad sounds like someone went through a poll and just plucked out the top scoring items, I don’t believe for a second Greene believes in any of these things.  I don’t find the ad or him credible at all.

What’s wrong with politics…

May 17, 2010

The best negative ads need to connect viscerally with viewers.  They need to engage with them, this ad just doesn’t feel credible.  It seems political and somehow unfair, and I ultimately think it fails.  It’s ads like these that give political ads a bad name.  Potentially, an ad like this one could backfire on Poizner if voters feel like he’s just slinging mud.

Book Club “Starting with Why”

May 17, 2010

My real work kept me from blogging last week.  But I wanted to write  a quick post about a new book I’m reading, “Staring with Why.”

If you’ve read “Good to Great” or even “Its not what you sell, it’s what you stand for…” then you probably don’t need this book.  Having looked at those books, I find “Starting with Why” much more approachable, at least for me.

The book basically posits that while most companies focus on the “What” they do (air travel, build computers, make cars) or occasionally the “How,” what really motivates and inspires people to buy your product or service or even vote for your candidate is the “Why.”   “Why” talks about the purpose in what you do, “Why” is your values or principles.  “Why” is about authenticity and connection not manipulation.

The idea of “why” is something I think about both in my own company, but also on the campaigns I work for. “Why” is what makes companies like Apple or Southwest successful, “Why” is what underlies the appeal of the Obama campaign and the failure of John Kerry.

The book isn’t very research heavy, but is very readable, and without a doubt work a look.

I support all that and a kitchen sink

May 4, 2010

Here’s a type of ad I haven’t talked about before:

Its not a bad ad, I particularly like the “effective” & “independent” quotes, that kind of third party validation is what sticks with me.  No, it’s not bad, it’s just jammed packed, jumping from issue, to issue, to issue.  I counted at least seven separate issues:

1. There’s the response and attack to the Giannoulias ad

2. Naval intelligence office… who served in Afganistan

3. Record on Stem Cells

4. and stopping BP from polluting Lake Michigan

5. Independent and effective quotes

6. Help stop wasteful spending in Washington,

7. and corruption in Illinois.

Phew.  That’s a lot of bullet points to hit in one ad.  What are people going to remember? Maybe Naval Intelligence officer? Maybe the quotes?  Maybe one of the issues, pick one: Corruption, wasteful spending, stem cells, polluting. The point is that it’s trying to get everything in there and the kitchen sink.  Now sometimes that’s necessary if you’re a candidate who has only enough money for one ad.  But I would still question the approach: Giving people too much information risks them remembering nothing.  It’s like a sound that’s too loud, we just block it out, ignore it, it engages our mental filters.

Don’t you think Kirk would have been better off with the beginning: responding to Giannoulias then focusing on something like: He’s a naval intelligence officer who’s been called effective and independent…. That would let the spot breath and let your audience absorb what they need to get out of it, instead of just throwing a bunch of crap out there and seeing what you get get to stick with enough repetition.


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