Archive for October, 2010

Final Push Nevada

October 27, 2010

Harry Reid’s final ad (maybe according to Plum Line) isn’t about Harry Reid at all, but rather is all about Sharron Angle’s world. Of the Reid  ads I’ve seen this one is the most effective. They’re still cramming a lot in there, and the prisoner massage stuff is a little out of the blue, but it’s really the first ad from Reid that really uses emotion to drive the message rather than logic.  This ad doesn’t tell you how to feel (you should be scared of crazy Sharron Angle), it just presents the elements of the argument to the viewer which I believe is a better/stronger way to go.  It leaves room for viewers to fill in the last step for themselves.

Don’t know if the design elements work (the colorized images and the grid — I think it’s a grid), but the ad works, not a great, but a good ending salvo.

And it’s much better than what the DSCC put up on Reid’s behalf.  First there was this one:

The good news: I think it’s smart to face up to voter’s anger, that’s the only reason someone like Angle is this close to becoming a US Senator.  I would have liked to see more ads that acknowledge that fact, reflect it back to voters.   The bad news, I find it insulting when the narrator says, “Imagine how angry you’ll be when Sharron Angle..” and “Work that anger out in the ring cause voting for Sharron Angle is only going to hurt yourself.” Just as understanding as the opening language was, that language is patronizing and out of touch.

I find the kick boxing distracting, and I can’t actually take in the information they’re trying to present. Points for trying don’t count for much in politics, I just think they got it wrong here, the ad ultimately feels tone deaf.

The followup to kickboxer, references the same line at the top and has a better transition (not as insulting is better).  This ad almost feels like an acknowledgement that the first one was a mistake.  It’s defiantly better, but suffer from the same problem as most of the anti-Angle ads do, the ad feels jammed packed even though they’re only talking about jobs and social security.  Maybe it’s the design of the ad, but I find it hard to focus on one thing, I had to watch it three times just to write this post (it felt like seven issues in there).

Knowing that voters are angry, the ads are trying to make the race about Angle, will that be enough on election day to keep Angle from 50%?

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Final Push Connecticut

October 26, 2010

This ad came out about a week ago, and it got lost in the shuffle of my day job.

I think this is a very powerful, very moving ad.  McMahon feels authentic and honest in it. It’s not complicated design wise, it doesn’t have to be does it?

My only issue with this ad is how it fits in with the rest of her campaign? I haven’t seen all the McMahon ads, but this one feels like a new piece of information for voters, it shows her as passionate and caring in a way I don’t think they have before.  With two weeks left in the campaign (when the ad started to air), that’s a huge piece of information for voters to work into their story of who Linda McMahon is — business woman, WWE CEO, rich,…caring and passionate?  The problem is it’s not the last piece of information that sticks with folks, its the pieces of information that fill in their stories, the stories we all create for our candidates (and for us and the “why” we chose the candidates we do).

It’s a good ad, but I think this story has already been written.

Final Push Wisconsin

October 25, 2010

Feingold takes his opponent’s signature ad and tries to turn the tables on him.  It’s a pretty attempt too, taking advantage of his opponent’s recent mis-steps to paid him as devoid of any real plans or ideas.  This ad is Feingold’s attempt at political aikido turning the race into a referendum on Johnson instead of himself.

I like the empty whiteboard, don’t know if you need the thing falling down at the end, and I wish they had figured out a better way to incorporate the newspapers quotes (which I think are essential validators in this case), right now they feel like they’re in the way of the concept which is so strong. In spite of those missteps, this is a good ad, that makes a compelling point.

The final push

October 25, 2010

We’re entering that time when campaigns make that final push to the finish line.  One week left, what message do you want to leave with voters before they head into the voting booth (do folks still vote in booths).  Something positive about you? A vision for the future? The cost of electing the other guy?  In races where the margins are too large to make up, do you try to push your name id for the next campaign? These are tough choices to make, as the field of possibilities narrows to one last message, one last opportunity to make your case.

Meg Whitman goes with the honesty approach, a one minute plea, that is part humble admission that folks might not like here, part bio, part political platitude, part vision statement.  I have to say I find this ad compelling, in the same way (even as a Democrat) I’ve found Whitman compelling.  There’s an iconic part of her story, the family moving west, making her fortune at ebay, that speaks to me, and makes me like her.  I like the admission at the open that voters see this election as an unhappy choice, I appreciate her naming that elephant in the room, and trying to turn it around.  While I find the middle  section not as compelling (I’m not a politician), overall I like this ad, it is a simple expression of her and her candidacy.

Compare that with Harry Reid’s last message to voters, which I find kind of all over the place.  This ad feels like it’s trying to do too much.  Where the Whitman ad is all about an emotional appeal, this ad feels like its trying to get voters to vote in their own self interest, which frankly rarely works.  In some ways it’s a fitting end to the Reid campaign which has always been about brute force and attrition tactics. There’s nothing subtle about this ad, but I don’t know if there’s anything exceptional about it either.  At the end of the day, it leaves me cold, neither likely Angle any less nor liking Reid any more.

Which one of these is not like the others…

October 21, 2010

Long week for me as we head into the end stretch, but there were some interesting or instructive ads that I wanted to point to. Each one could have it’s own post, but don’t have the time for that, so I’ll give you the ad infinitum version.

Wow. Great production values, I wonder how much they spent on this ad?  Good ad, tells a story, is unexpected and clever, love the iPadish display of Wall St.  Makes me almost believe what they’re saying.  Funny how much more powerful a story can be than straight facts. Also I appreciate that they stuck with the concept and subtitled the ad rather than doing it in english.  Top stuff here.

A really clever execution, following one woman through her life and how Sharron Angle would effect her. Great graphic design behind the woman.  Wonderful ad.

This ad is a gimmick, and serves as a great contrast to the two earlier ads. While the others have a concept that accentuates the message, the opera frame in this ad basically goes… nowhere.  It’s like two ads in one, yes you get the nice pay off at the with the face the music line, but really, it feels like a lot of sound and fury signifying… not much. If they really followed the concept, the singer would have sung an aria about Fiorina, that would have been awesome and also appropriate — the tragedy of HP.

Angle takes a new angle

October 20, 2010

[Update: The ad has been removed from youtube by a copyright claim. Here’s a link to view it. ]

Two ads from Sharon Angle, this time though instead of fighting it out on Reid’s record, they go for the emotional jugular that Reid is out of touch.  I really like this ad, I think it’s well done. I do wonder who this woman is, guiding us through Reid’s out of touchness, but that aside, I like its snarky tone, it’s not over the top, doesn’t overplay the attack, but still strikes home the message that Reid is out touch, in an interesting way.

In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a political ad like this one.  It uses a spokeperson, not the candidate or a real person, I find the spokesperson likable which helps as well.

The strength of this ad is that it powerfully reframes the race as a contest between Harry Reid and “you” rather than a choice between Reid and Angle.  In some ways, that’s what she’s been trying to do the entire race, but hammering away with issues, she was making a rational case. The subtext of this ad is much more emotional and visceral, it could have easily slipped into the petty, but it toes the line.

Great ad.  One of my favorite of the year.

The other Angle ad tried to accomplish the same goal, it’s pretty good, but has neither the charm nor the innovation of the first. If this was the only ad Angle was running on this issue, I would say it was effective, but not necessarily a game changer.

Like a duck

October 19, 2010

This is the kind of simple ad, that really take a lot of work.  What a pain it must have been to find all those clips and match them up. The visual execution is not groundbreaking, but it’s good enough and doesn’t step on the message.

This ad is like a duck, on the surface it’s calm and seems to be barely straining, underneath, it’s paddling like crazy.  On the surface this ad is devastatingly effective because it is tying to Whitman to Schwarzenegger, who is not particularly popular in California.

Under the surface lies the real punch in this ad.  The repetition of the language points to the common cliches politicians use.  Hearing her words echoing Schwarzenegger’s makes them all the more meaningless, they’re just platitudes with no real meaning, no real value. At end of the ad, with the San Jose Mercury line splashed across the screen, “She utterly lacks the qualifications to be governor,” there’s a real feeling that Whitman is just an empty suit with nothing real to say.

Attack and Counter in Kentucky

October 18, 2010

In this race, Conway is down, but not an insurmountable amount, but time is running out.  They can go back and forth or they can try for the big play, swing for the fences, knock out blow, pick your favorite sports analogy here. Well, they sure went for it.

I have to appreciate the fact that they didn’t sugar coat, didn’t back down, didn’t try to hide behind a euphemism, but damned this is an ugly ad, for it’s look as much as it’s content. The ad is so extreme in it’s claim, that it’s hard for me to judge how effective it’ll be.

To me, it feels like it’s trying real hard, almost too hard.  Desperate might not be the right word…, I think the word I’m looking for is pandering. Hey Kentucky, you’re Christians, well Rand Paul he’s not or maybe he’s not, see don’t you hate him now, huh, please, right?  (Eyebrows making exaggerate pleas.)

There’s no formula to these things, but I believe that the harder and more outrageous the claim, the softer you ought to sell it. This ad is an 11 on the claim scale, and a 9 on the political negative cliche scale.

Josh Marshall said, “It registered for me as somewhere between a hokey Tea Party ad and an SNL spoof.” It’s never a good thing when your hard hitting negative looks like a spoof of an ad. In the whole form supporting function, it just doesn’t add to the credibility of the ad.

It’s one thing to make the decision to air the attack, but the manner it was aired makes it feel clumsy and desperate, a more refined ad, might have overcome that problem.

Paul countered with this ad stating, “He has Christ in his heart,” and that Conway is “[bearing] false witness” against him.

The response to Conway’s attack makes me wonder if Paul didn’t feel vulnerable to it. Seems like overkill to say you both have “Christ in your heart” and he’s bearing false witness again you, but I’m from Kentucky, and I’m not the one who’s had my christianity questioned.  Obviously that last line is a not too subtle attempt to invoke biblical language.  Again feels like pandering to me, “See Kentucky, I can say things like bear witness and smite, so I must be Christian….” Ok he doesn’t say “smite” but maybe he should have.

The response is pretty cliche (other than false witness which you don’t hear very often these days), dark grayed out shots of Conway, his lips flapping hard edged newpaper headlines to accentuate their point (though the script ads the line “gutter politics at its worse,” which isn’t a quote as far as I can tell).  This ad isn’t as over the top as the original ad, but if Boris were here he might say, “Rand,… check yourself…..”

So who wins this round? Both ads are pretty lame, so as far as form goes, it’s a draw.  The Conway ad feels a little cheaper, the Paul ad cleaner and slicker, but neither one distinguishes themselves.

So if it comes down to function, I’ll give the win to Conway on the technical point that they raised the issue, and it seems that’s what folks are talking about with two weeks left in the campaign.  Maybe it backfires, maybe it doesn’t work, but it’s not what Paul wants to be talking about that’s for sure.

Dueling ads in Alaska

October 15, 2010

I’ve don’t think I’ve ever seen an endorsement ad quite like this one.  You see dead people’s support invoked, but never actually seen them talking on camera.  Politically, this spot may help Murkowski, but it’s piss poor production values. This is a US Senator, and Murkowski is running for Senate, it looks like an ad for local office, council member or used car salesman.

Still, it is odd to see a dead guy talking to you, wonder what the conversation around running the ad was like. Still, all that doesn’t matter if people can get over the fact that Stevens is dead, that the delivery is stilted, and it looks like it was shot on a home video camera, Stevens name still carries weight in Alaska, and this race is close.

Now, to the guy who has the most to lose from Murkowski’s write in.  This video is a parody of the Old Spice ads that are so popular. As a parody it’s pretty good, it loses some of the original’s cleverness, but the hit on Murkowski is solid (she lost), the bio stuff on Miller gets old.

It’s clever and done cheaply, which seems to matter in Alaska (judging by these two ads, well one ad and one video).

 

 

A tale of two negative ads

October 14, 2010

I love the design of this ad.  It’s really well executed, down to the thought bubbles on Mark Schauer and China.  The issues in this ad are packaged well, so it’s not the specifics that hit home, but rather the thought “What were you thinking….” That’s a smart attack and the execution helps drive it home. Too often we get caught up in trying to hit each issue point rather than the message or conclusion the issues are supposed to be driving home. We forgot about winning the war, and focus on the battle.  This ad is one of my favorites this year.

Compare it to this ad against Sharon Angle from Harry Reid. It feels like a bunch of individual items thrown together into an ad. There’s no design, no frame except at the end of the ad.  Unlike the NRCC in the ad above Reid actually has issues to hit Angle on, but the result of the attack is less than the sum of their parts because it feels like their is no coordination — between the issues themselves, nor between the voice and the visuals or the design.

Which of these ads is more effective? Well, you run enough money behind the Reid ad, and it’ll get through, eventually. But the Reid ad is exactly why people hate political ads. It’s hitting them over the head because it has to, it’s attrition warfare defined.  The NRCC ad is clever, it engages, it frames, it breaks through much easier in my opinion, it sticks, it an example of maneuver warfare.

Given the choice, it’s better to go around your enemy than through them.


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