Archive for September, 2010

True to yourself

September 30, 2010

With politicians (Democrats) running away from Health Care Reform like it was the plague, Russ Feingold embraces the best (most popular) elements of the health care plan, and attacks his opponent admonishing him “hands off my health care.”

While I think the ad is not a particularly good execution — I never like scripting real people, it can be hard for them to pull off the lines, and I’m not sure they do here.  I think it’s the right play.  Getting back to my last post, you have to be true to your values and who you are.  Feingold is doing that, and pushing back on his opponent at the same time, if he’s got any shot of winning this race, that’s the best strategy.

Using real people is smart because it’s not just politicians who appreciate health care reform.  Scripting the people takes some of that power away from the message, they’re a little stiff and they’re  indicating (as my mom used to say), but it works well enough I suppose, and it’s a bold play.

I said what!?

September 30, 2010

Another good ad from yesterday.

Sometimes when my seven year old is blaming me or my wife or his brother for whatever mistake he just made, I remind him of something Shakespeare said, “The fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.” (It came back to haunt me when he quoted it to a friend, and said, see it’s all your fault.)

I like the visual look of the ad, the multiple filmstrip style. I think it’s both interesting and effective at presenting the clips, which are at the heart of this spot. I think this is spot is pretty devastating to Crist, capturing his own words, turning them against him now that he’s an “independent.”

Look, I think Crist gets what he deserves in this case. He’s been waffling and trying to play both sides, as he ran in the Republican primary, then switch to independent as it became clear that he couldn’t win.

Crist’s positioning was completely political and never felt authentic to me.  Now he’s paying the price for his political maneuvering. I believe you’re better off doing what you think is right then doing what a poll tells you people think is right. It can come back to bite you when the winds of change shift.

To quote Shakespeare again, “To thine own self be true.”

A good day for ads

September 29, 2010

It’s a good day for political ads.  This ad from Ron Johnson is pretty darn good. I guess you could call it a comparative ad, it’s done in such a matter of fact way, that it’s particularly effective. Without the vitriol, it allows viewers to like Johnson, to relate to him, and then see his point about Feingold. Sometimes less is more, sometimes it’s often better to invite people in than push them in through the door.

The ad is inspired by this UPS Whiteboard video.

The issues in the ad are almost irrelevant to the fact that Johnson isn’t a lawyer, somehow that conveys a sense that’s also not a politician. Much like the Scott Brown ads, he’s making himself likable first. Over at the Fix, Chris Cillizza talks about the key to this ad being that it’s so different from other ads and it makes Johnson different as well. That’s true, though I would say the key to this ad is that it shows Johnson as different as he tells you as much.

Now, we’re cooking with Gas

September 29, 2010

In an earlier post, I wondered aloud why Melancon didn’t come hard after Vitter on the prostitution scandal (was there a pun in there somewhere).

Well, this isn’t a commercial for air, as it runs 2 minutes, but I think it’s pretty darn good. I love the way they parody the reality crime show genre. Also notice here how they stay with the parody the entire way through.  There’s little that feels like a political ad, they really stuck with the concept all the way through.  (I wonder if the people really wanted anonymity or if it was just part of the genre they’re parodying, in either case I think it works.)

One question is will they have the guts to put this on the air?  I can easily see the promo version of this video, next on “Forgotten Crimes…”

The real question is this too little too late, or will this be the knock out punch to Vitter.

[Editor’s Note: According to Talking Points Memo, the two minute piece is the ad, and it’s going to run on cable.]

Don’t see this everyday

September 28, 2010

Don’t often see a spat between consultants over plagiarism or maybe immitation is the more favorable description:

The ad in question is this Grayson ad.

Compared with this Spitzer ad.

It’s been a bad day for the Grayson consultant, what with lying in one ad, and being hit for plagiarism in this ad. I have to say, I have a lot of respect for the creator of the original, Jimmy Siegel and the Spitzer ads in general, and right now not much respect for the folks who are making the Grayson ads.

I don’t agree with Siegel’s assertion “you’re not allowed to shamelessly copy things in other mediums, but for some reason some media consultants have no shame.”

I think a good ad can and should be shamelessly copied if it’s relevant to the race you’re running,it’s authentic to your candidate, and you can bring something new to it. My problem with the imitation in this case is that it just feels like Grayson didn’t really add anything new, didn’t “make it his own.” It just copied the form of the Spitzer ad (down to the 8mm flash frames) and just threw Grayson in there with his kids instead of kids by themselves.  It misses the subtlety and freshness of the original, neither parodying it nor adding to it.

Siegel got this part right, “And to add insult to injury, they did a lousy job.”

One small problem

September 28, 2010

Some good hits in this ad, and it’s a nice twist  — usually it’s Republicans saying Democrats are in line with the Taliban or the terrorists or whatever.

Oh, what’s the problem?  Just this little fact:

“Grayson has lowered the bar even further. He’s using edited video to make his rival appear to be saying the opposite of what he really said,” the nonpartisan site, sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, wrote on its blog Monday.”

The truth? Oh, that…. Here’s the thing, you got your opponent with some pretty extreme votes. That’s some pretty good evidence, why overplay your hand, by taking his comments out of context and deliberately misrepresenting them? It’s just stupid.  Now instead of voters hearing how extreme what’s his name is, they hear Grayson lied about what’s his name. And the extreme part? That sort of gets lost, ignored or worse, becomes part of the lie.

On a personal level, an ad like this makes me angry.  It’s one thing to spin, to try and create a narrative with your opponents record or even ascribe motives to their actions, it’s another thing to knowingly lie and distort. Either the person who made this ad, doesn’t have any morals, are so contemptuous of voters they think they can lie to them with impunity, are amateurs or all three.  This kind of ad is why folks hate political ads. There really should be some penalty for this kind of shamelessness.

Ad infinitum: Two Ads

September 24, 2010

Two quick notes on two ads that have been in the hopper for a couple of days:

Good ad. It doesn’t always work, but I like that they stayed with the concept, the execution gets rough with the mirror images of Fisher, but I like the CG’s on the road signs. Though, I kinda ignored the road signs, as if I was driving (if you’ve read Tom Vanderbilt’s awesome book on traffic, called, “Traffic,” you would know this is a common phenomena).

Very similar to the last ad I looked at by Fred Davis. Fiorina looks great in the ad, but I have to say, I again question attacking Boxer for being arrogant, when Fiorina comes off as so arrogant. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.  There’s even an arrogant/snide tone as she’s talking about Boxer’s arrogance. I don’t get it.

How to make the same old, different

September 24, 2010

I think this ad from the DCCC is pretty well executed. Outsourcing is an issue that seems to be popping up in a lot of races across the country.  So, it’s harder and harder to make an ad about outsourcing that distinguishes itself from the rest.  I thought it was an interesting execution, that doesn’t look like other ads, but I also appreciate the fact that it’s tone is whimsical without being flip.

Good work.

All Fred Davis for Today

September 22, 2010

I tweeted this earlier today, but it’s worth repeating anyone interested in political advertising should read this article about GOP ad “guru” Fred Davis. In some ways Fred Davis embodies exactly the kind of creative, boundary pushing, emotional story telling ads that I advocate for on this blog. In other ways, I think his ads can fall into the gimmick category — using outrageous for the sake of getting attention, even if that attention is for the outrageousness of the ad rather than the message it is disseminating. In other words, his ads get more attention than they are effective (I’m thinking specifically of his Paris Hilton ad against Obama).

I also find him personally annoying, but that could be just the way he’s presented in the press (or the persona/story he presents to the press as the “creative” genius, maybe in person he’s very nice and interesting).  I do very much appreciate the way he’s unapologetic about his ideas and unafraid to make bold choices creatively (even if he should follow Boris’ advice to “check himself”). We need more people like that in political ad making.

My only other comment is how well he could perform on smaller budgets?  It’s great to make a provocative $40k viral video, but a lot of campaigns don’t have that kind of cash. Creativity isn’t dependent on money, but money sure helps when it comes to execution.

In honor of Fred Davis, here’s a couple of recent examples of his work:

A while back I looked at parodies of the “Daisy Ad,” and in general I found the parodies not compelling. This ad is a parody of the classic Reagan ad, “Morning in America”:

This ad measure up very well with the original. Striking the same tone to opposite effect. It uses the original as an anchor to twist the message, are you better off now than four years ago. In the original the answer was yes, in this ad the answer is a resounding no.

This ad for Carly Fiorina I was less impressed with:

Visually I found it uninspired, from a message point of view, I found it bewildering. You’re going to come after Boxer for being a millionaire while Californians are suffering? Um, that’s exactly what Boxer is attacking Fiorina for doing while she was at HP.  Now, I’m all for undercutting the opponent’s argument, political aikido and all, but I just don’t find Fiorina’s claim credible.  Or put another way, I find the attack on her time as CEO of HP more credible, while this attack on Boxer leaves me with a shrug.  Though I should say, I really do like the music…, I wonder how much it cost?

Part of the art of political advertising is knowing when to go for a homerun and when a single is all you need.

Framing your argument

September 22, 2010

I like the look of this new ad from the DSCC, I’ve wanted to use a filmstrip style look for a while now.  I think this is a pretty good ad, and does a lot to undercut Christine O’Donnell.  Instead of attacking her character or wacky ideas, they go straight for her competence. I think that’s a good approach.

Frankly, most of the ad is filer (in the sense, I can’t remember a thing is actually said) till you get to the last line from a “former employee.” That’s the killer, saying she was financially irresponsible, a former employee, bam! It goes back to validation. The last line nails it home, and gives everything that came before it a frame and context.

Do you need the other attacks, “didn’t pay her taxes,” etc, I don’t know. I can’t remember the specifics by the end, but I do remember that employee saying she was financially irresponsible. Certainly, you could lose the rhetoric, she would fit right in in Washington. If you didn’t know she didn’t pay her taxes or hired an employee she didn’t pay, or whatever else she didn’t do with her money, would it matter? Don’t know.

Still this is a good hit, and a step above the usual party attack ad.

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