Archive for April, 2012

Do Production values matter?

April 27, 2012

Interesting ad from John Tester. It’s a total gimmick ad, but I like the concept. I think the gimmick works here because it’s on message and on emotion, the key elements for any ad, but specifically an ad that revolves around a gimmick. Tester has never seemed Washington, so telling people he packs his Montana steaks, the nice touch with the boots (and the shot of the TSA agent looking at the x-ray of the steaks) works here because it matches what we think of him already.

What I don’t like about this ad is the execution. The shots are a little sloppy, the lighting is really flat (especially at the end of the ad), even the audio sounds a little crunchy. Frankly the ad feels cheap, more like a low budget commercial, then a commercial for a US Senator. Maybe that’s a stylistic choice, but I think you can be homey without looking cheap.

A good story with poor production values still works, and I think this ad mostly works. The sloppy and cheap execution do hold it back though, it feels less real, more staged, less believable somehow. Compare this ad with the gimmick ads from Hickenlooper, those were highly produced and yet still felt intimate and personal.

So a good concept taken down by poor execution. At least they’re trying to be different.

Advertisements

The road ahead or dead end?

April 25, 2012

Protect NC Families is up with two ads trying to defeat the discriminatory Amendment 1:

I’m split on these ads.  From a tactical point of view, I like them, they try to tackle an issue in an emotional way, telling a story and putting a face to the consequences of passing an amendment that might otherwise be anonymous. They’re well filmed and well made, not earth shattering, but really solid and professional.

At the strategic level, I wonder if these spots are barking up the right tree. I totally get the thinking, we can’t argue gay marriage in North Carolina, we’ll never win, so let’s make it about straight folks, real North Carolinians who will lose their rights. We’ll get them on self interest. Shoot, even as I write the argument down it’s compelling, and I could see myself falling down a similar rabbit hole.

But while it’s compelling, I’m not sure it’s right (funny thing about being wrong, it feels just like being right… until the moment you realize you’re wrong). First off people vote on values, they vote on emotion, they don’t vote on rational self interest. Secondly, there’s been some pretty interesting research that you don’t move people when you talk about gay marriage as a rights issue.  People don’t get married for their partners benefits, they get married because they love each other, they get married to make a commitment to that love, they get married to spent their lives together — not to spend their insurance coverage.

So I wonder if the Protect NC Families is miscalculating. I’m sure on a poll this message drives voters, but in the real world, I wonder if it’s a dead end — especially to the extent that the Amendment is associated with gay marriage in the mind of voters. It’s sort of pulling a bait and switch, don’t think of an elephant kind of trick.

Compare those ads with this one from New York:

This ad takes the point of view of straight people, but does it in the context of a mother’s love for her child, and her approval of her son’s love for another man. That’s a pretty powerful message, and it doesn’t risk alienating voters. I wonder if these ads are just being too cute with this issue instead of trying to deal with it head on.

I love the smell of desperation in the morning….

April 6, 2012

Sometimes it’s hard to write about bad ads, sometimes it just makes me angry ,or makes me feel like I’m repeating myself. But sometimes an ad is so bad and cliche, well it just tickles me:

In what has got to be seen as one of the worst campaigns of the year so far, Dick Lugar comes up with one of hte most cliche and desperate ads of the year. Lugar you may know has taken heat for basically living in DC for 36 years while representing the state of Indiana.That probably wouldn’t be so bad, but it only reinforces a growing image among conservatives and votrs in general that Lugar is out of touch. So in this context a little political aikido would be perfect.

This ad feels less like Aikido and more like… Inspector Clouseau. First off all, I was confused, “Washington Outside Groups”? It’s a strange turn of phrase, usually we’re worried about inside groups, what they mean is groups from Washington, outside of Indiana, but the phrase is awkard enough that it wasn’t clear to me at first.

The next point that struck me as odd was the attack itself. Murdock is saying he’s going to get national money, I guess if you’re Dick Lugar and people think you’re not in touch with the state that might be an issue, but I wonder if it’s too inside baseball for most voters to really care. Inside baseball is a term we use from time to time, it means, focusing on the internal politics of a situation, how you make the sausage — the kind of stuff that political junkies love. But most voters really don’t care about inside politics, it feels, well, too political to them. They can be made to care if the inside baseball attack somehow resonates back to the story they already believe.

Finally let’s talk about cliche. The music the voice over are so over the top, it really feels like the “Mickey Mouse” politics it talks about in the ad. Cliche can be useful, but in this case it just weighs the ad down. It’s so overtly negative that it leaves the viewer no place to go, no room to put themselves into the ad emotionally.

So let’s see we got awkward phrasing of an inside baseball attack that presented in a very cliche execution… what’s that leave us with? Desperation. I read a study that said most casualties in combat don’t happen during the combat itself, but during the retreat. One side starts to retreat, and suddenly the retreat turns into a route. Desperation is a bit like that. This ad wants to present strength, but really it only represent’s Lugar’s weakness.


%d bloggers like this: