Archive for March, 2011

To Juxtapose…

March 22, 2011

Today’s commercial was made by a friend of mine who I have both praised and savaged on this blog.

I really like this ad, sure it’s a gimmick, but it’s a gimmick that works. The guy is running for county assessor, it’s hard to think of a more boring, less dramatic elected office.

In college, my favorite word was “juxtapose” (we should all have a favorite word). I made a conscious effort to put it into every paper I wrote — it was in part because it was my favorite word, in part it was my rather vague and subtle attempt to be subversive.  Anyway, I enjoy the juxtaposition of the western themed elements (music, color, sound f/x) and the rather hum-drum nature of the candidate and the office.

This ads makes drive by assessments dramatic for F-sake.

The funny thing is, for all the drama, music, and stylized shots, this spot works — Jake Zimmerman feels real to me. I have no idea what he’s like in person, but he appears to be a no-nonsense, straight forward guy, it seems authentic.  You could have created a standard spot, imagine the same spot without the music and f/x, it would be fine, but it wouldn’t be memorable. I remember this spot, I remember the message, Jake is fair, no drive by assessments.

(To be honest, my friend showed me a cut where the drive by assessments line was executed in a more standard way, and it flopped, it wasn’t bad per se, it just didn’t really resonate the way it does in this version).

To give this spot even more credit, I’m not sure why my friend thought this combination would work, it shouldn’t, I wouldn’t have believed it would work until I saw it.  I’m not a big fan of gimmicks, usually they’re just, well a gimmick, something to get attention (the spitting on the table), but they don’t usually drive message.  The gimmick here does, and frankly, I’m not sure why, except to come back to my favorite word: Juxtaposition.

A tale of two videos.

March 8, 2011

Wow, has it really been a month since I blogged? Well that’s just too damned long.  While there has been a dearth of interesting ads and videos (by interesting I mean something that I offers the potential for enlightenment — good or bad), I miss writing.  Also if you enjoy the blog posts you ought to be following me on twitter as I do tweet several times a week with interesting ads, design and the like.

Today, if you didn’t hear, is International Women’s Day. Over on twitter I was directed to two videos which basically give a snap shot on the status of women in the world. I will state before hand, I know that the two videos are different in scope and perspective on the issue (while espousing the same basic message), and in some ways it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but I work in politics, you should never let the facts get in the way of a good argument.

Ok, off the bat, I think the first video from the Harvard Kennedy School is pretty good. It’s professional and gets a lot of information in, isn’t completely technical and boring (which is easily could have been).

The second video obviously has a huge advantage, with Daniel Craig and Judi Dench (how awesome would it be to have Judi Dench narrate a political ad), that’s an advantage, but it’s not what makes it better in my opinion.  Judi Dench and Daniel Craig — the whole James Bond thing, is really just a MacGuffin. It’s a hook to get you to watch the video, and an anchor or shorthand to explain some of what they’re discussing (like the double standard on sexual promiscuity).

I also love the simplicity of the second video, the black with the light behind.  With so much information in the narration, it helps to focus our attention on the message. In fact the information in this video really is a Macguffin as well, you aren’t meant to absorb any one fact but rather the total sum of all the facts is what matter — it’s the impression that sum makes that is the impact of the video, but if you were asked in a survey to recall them, my guess is you wouldn’t be able to, yet the video is impactful nonetheless.

The strength of the second video is that it does in 2:00 minutes or so what the Kennedy School video takes 7:00 to do (and this is just the short version). Being to the point is important. I’m interested in the message of these videos, but the Kennedy School video loses my attention right around the 2:00-3:00 minute mark, after that point, I’m frankly bored. As good as the video is, it needs to make the point and move on, making the same point again and again becomes self defeating and self indulgent. I walk away unsure how I’m supposed to feel because, well because I didn’t make it through to the end (well only because I was watching for this blog).

I think the video feels in some ways like the inverse of the Bond video — each fact is as important as the other, but at the end of the day, by losing the emotional punch and my attention, it adds up less than the sum of it’s parts.

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