It’s a little like M.A.S.H.

I re-tweeted a post from “Hey Whipple Squeeze This” author Luke Sullivan entitled, “Super Bowl Ads (versus all the rest of the year).”

It’s a good article, which basically argues that we should put the same effort into every ad that is put into a Super Bowl ad.  Why does a Super Bowl ad have to rock, but for the other 364 days of the year is it ok for an ad to be just ok.

I agree with that thought, there should be no throw away ads, though too often, especially in politics there are, we need a response ad: Cue standard response ad.  We need an attack: Cue standard attack ad.  You’ve seen them before.

All that being said, sometimes it’s just not possible to make a great ad.  My partner and I say, a great ad a day late, is worth nothing.  Making political ads is far different from general advertising in this respect.  The timelines are shorter, turnarounds faster, and the pressure to get it right (because there is a campaign end and you don’t get a second shot) higher.

I’ve often compared political ad making to general ad making like this:

General ad making is like operating at a hospital, there are emergencies and such, but time is scheduled the pace is predictable, there is an order to it.

Political ad making is surgery in a M.A.S.H. unit (for those of you old enough to remember the movie and TV show). Often it’s meatball surgery.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t the chance for brilliance and creative genius to shine through (as it often did in the hands of Hawkeye Pierce). But sometimes it’s just enough to get an ad to air in time to respond or attack or whatever. My purpose here is to say it doesn’t always have to be just getting it out, that there is room for more.

My partner and I once turned an ad around in 2 hours from writing to shipping to stations to meet an airing deadline.  How good an ad can you create in two hours?  Someone said, “It looks good for an ad made in two hours,” and I replied, “Unless you’re going to be there telling the viewers we only had two hours to create this ad, it better look good for an ad, period.”

As Boris used to say when someone tried to defend their work, “Guys, it is on the screen.”

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I get it, political ads can be tough to make well given the money and timelines.  Sometimes good enough is good enough because it makes it to air in time. But that doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t treat each ad like it was airing on the Super Bowl, at least we can try.

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