Archive for August, 2010

Metaphors gone bad

August 31, 2010

Wow. Boxing gloves really?

If you’re gonna use a gimmack, don’t make your candidate looks stupid doing it.

Then there’s this (from @pwire):

“Scott Walker (R) has begun running ads in which he dons boxing gloves and vows to “go the distance” against Tom Barrett (D) in the Wisconsin race for governor, the APreports.

The problem with the fighting metaphor? Barrett “was viciously beaten outside a fairground last year and left with serious injuries” when he “tried to help a screaming woman struggling to protect her 1-year-old granddaughter from being taken by her drunk, belligerent father.””

Play the reality

August 31, 2010

This is almost a good ad.  I like the concept at the open, but I don’t like the woman playing the “voter.” Maybe that’s my problem with her, she’s “playing” a voter, she’s so over the top, that the reality of the spot is lost. If she played the reality of the absurd moment, choosing a politician on a game show like the dating game, rather than playing the absurdity of the moment, I would like the spot better.  If she anchored me in the real, then I could suspend my disbelief for the surreal.

Also because she’s so over the top, when she reappears at the end with Lynch, I find the moment totally phoney.

I’m not sure about the cutting to Lynch either.  I guess I’m not sure if I believe he’s really fed up etc or if he’s just reading off a teleprompter.

Still, pretty good effort, and I think the ad might do a good job of framing the race, even if it’s not as effective as it could be.

Too Bright

August 25, 2010

Caught this ad in a post on the Plum Line talking about Dems running ads against Obama & Pelosi.

Message aside I’m torn about it. On one hand, I love the visuals and the music. I love the bright sepia tones and the silhouette. On the other hand, why do they insist on cluttering up the screen with those glowing CG’s. Yes, I know his name is Bright, but it’s bad enough the CG’s are repeating what the voice over already told us, but then they’re glowing.

Ten years ago, glows like that would be very timely and costly to put into an ad, today, it’s literally 3 minutes and pressing a button on a computer.  It’s so easy to create the effects, but the question here is why? What’s the point?  They’re “bright” like his name?  If that’s it… sigh.

I do love the shots though.  I wish they trusted them enough to tell the story.

When a gimmick works

August 23, 2010

Mr. Fix Chris Cillizza asks rhetorically if this is the best positive ad of the cycle:

Unlike the last video, this ad is a gimmick that works. What’s the difference? At the most basic level this ad works because while it is a gimmick, there is something truthful about it. It’s authentic to the candidate, so the form says something about him.  It reinforces his image as not an everyday politician and it goes to the public’s desire to see government work instead of fight. The fact that it’s an easy pledge for him to make given the nature of his race is immaterial to the ad.

Here’s the Hickenlooper ad from his run for mayor:

Now if John Kerry of John McCain tried or Andrew Cuomo tried to be this quirky so voters could “relate” to them, it would be an abject failure.  It works for Hickenlooper because the guy is goofy.

I agree with most of Chris’ analysis of the ad, though I do take exception to his final point, “it provides a broad thematic blueprint of what to say and how to say it for candidates — incumbents and challengers alike — dealing with a very volatile electorate.”

This ad works for Hickenlooper, the themes work for his race and candidacy, someone else running along similar themes may or may not work.

The broader point I would make is this: with a volatile electorate, it is especially important that you run ads that are honest and authentic, that can resonate and connect with the voting public. If you can do it with humor and entertainment all the better, but more importantly, as Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.”

Maybe it’s me

August 23, 2010

A friend sent me this one, with the note, “Best political ad of the year…”

Watching a video like this, I got to wonder is it just me, maybe I’m lacking creativity and vision.  But I just don’t get it.

On one hand, wow, they really went for it.  You got to appreciate the fact they aren’t going with vanilla. They sure went through what seems like a lot of effort — complete with dressing their candidate up like young Terri Garr. There’s of art direction going on to parody a 35 year old movie. And, while I’ve talked about other ads/videos not trusting their concept, these guys trust theirs all the way.

The section with the violin, to quote Boris, “Guys, this is movie.” That part works, it drives home the message (though it ends with “Ahmadinejad, he’s my boyfriend,” and while that’s accurate to the parody, seems way over the top here).

Still, at the end of the day, this video feels like a mess to me.  Another film school quote, “If you notice the boom mic in the shot, then the scene isn’t working.” Well, I noticed the shoddy camera work.  The choice of “Young Frankenstein” is odd, and even odder is dressing your candidate up like a gothic heroine, but alright.  In the end, there’s 10 seconds of good material, but the rest leaves me searching for the meaning. What’s the deal with Frankenstein and Iran?  I’m not sure what the metaphor is supposed to be? What is Harman creating?

At the end of the day, this seems like an elaborate gimmick. In other words, it a concept driving message, not a message driving a concept.  It may get Mattie Fein attention, but I wonder what that attention is, will people see the production values and see her as serious?  Will the attacks stick?

I admire their gusto and style, but question their judgement.  Maybe it’s just me though.

Teach them to Long…

August 22, 2010

If you want to build a ship
don’t herd people together to collect wood
and don’t assign them tasks and work,
but rather teach them to long for the
endless immensity of the sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I think this quote is good advice for leadership & ad making.  Too often ads, and political ads in general, focus on herding people together and assigning tasks, in other words they focus on issues, or some other laundry list, rather than inspiring or emotion.

BTW, I got that quote from this deck which lays out Netflix’s most interesting values & managerial philosophy.  (Tip of the hat to Dan Pink.)

Not Typical, but on Target

August 19, 2010

Great ad calling for Target boycott.

What do I like about it? It’s everything that last ad I looked isn’t:

It doesn’t take the time to explain, “Target donated… Blah, blah, blah.”

It aims straight to your emotions.

It certainly looks different (and sounds different, that jingle is very catchy).

It also starts with a mystery, what is this, what am I watch?  It brings the viewer into the experience, then rewards them with a catchy jingle.  Think of how different this could have gone. What if they used a standard script after that step up? Relied on information delivery instead of emotions?


August 19, 2010

This is about as standard a political ad as you can get.  Filled with all the cliche’s:

“The Facts…”

“[Insert candidate’s name here] voted…” Votes that show the opposite quality of the attack.

“And… [insert opponent’s name here] voted to do…” Issues of the year, today it’s shipping jobs overseas & privatizing social security.

Nothing wrong with it, expect it’s totally forgettable, and it’s too logical, or rather it’s relying on logic rather emotion.

Now this little piggie

August 18, 2010

This one is pretty good. It’s 1:30 so it’s not a TV which is too bad, hopefully they can cut it down to :30 because I think it’s devastating. Especially given Quayle’s overly ernest ad that I reviewed last week.

Here’s a great example of trusting the concept. Think of all the ways they could have screwed this up, too many CG’s, trying to put to much wonky stuff in there, instead the humor is organic to the situation.  Great job.


August 18, 2010

Here’s something you won’t see a lot of this year: A Democrat attacking a Republican for supporting the bailout.

It’s kinda interesting.  I really like the opening shot of Robin Carnahan against the flag. Maybe that’s the best thing about the ad.

I guess it’s not too big of a leap from bailout to getting Wall St money, but it feels a bit like a non sequitur in my opinion.

Well it’ll be good to put the Republicans on the defensive about the bailout for a change.

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