Archive for July, 2012

A tale of Two ads (in one)

July 19, 2012

A couple of posts ago, I looked at the Tammy Baldwin ad where she talks about taking care of her grandmother. That ad failed because it forgot about telling a story in favor of relying talking points. The story was really just a MacGuffin, so it rang as inauthentic.

Now we have Mazie Hirono’s ad “Determined.”

So I really loved this ad or should I say the first :30 seconds of this ad. The graphics and pictures are wonderful, and I find her story totally compelling and interesting. Because this ad is a :60 second ad it let her really unwind the story without rushing.

Unfortunately it’s :60 second ad, and they felt compelled to get back to the issues because campaigns are supposed to be about the issues. Look, I know what people tell you they way (to quote Henry Ford, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have told me they wanted faster horses”), but values are issues, and frankly I learned more about Mazie Hirono from the “soft” first :30 seconds than I did from the “hard” blah blah blah issues back end.

The transition from story to issues was awkward too, she’s telling a pretty personal story about her mother and growing up and suddenly the narrator interrupts (and it felt like interrupting) riffing off the word “determined.”

Look the issues part of the ad isn’t bad, it’s really nicely laid out and designed.  The issues are interesting, and not the same old same old we normally hear, but it’s an entirely different ad. It’s not like a Resses peanut butter cup (hey you got your chocolate in my peanut butter, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate…). Instead of :60, they might have been better off running 2 x :30 a bio/story spot and an issues spot that built off it.

I don’t know if the second part of the ad diffuses the power of the first, but it certainly gets lost in the emotional connection of the first part. Sometimes less is more.

Throwback…

July 19, 2012

A quick post:

Don’t see too many jingles now a days.

This one is actually pretty catchy which is good, because Nancy is actually a write in candidate, so remembering her name is doubly important (of course, I can’t remember her last name now… maybe not as effective as they’d like).

I like the ad because the jingle actually serves a message purpose, that’s form and function, and that’s the way it ought to be.

When Story Fails…

July 10, 2012

New spot from Tammy Baldwin. Watching this spot, I wanted to like it — it the kind of personal story, values spot that I think we need more of in our politics. Did I say I wanted to like it already? I did really, but at the end of the spot, it just leaves me feeling… flat?

I went back to watch the spot a few more times, trying to figure out what I was reacting to. I think it comes down to a couple of things:

1. Why oh why do consultants feel compelled to insert talking points into ads, hoping they’ll sound conversational?  “So when people in Washington talk about slashing medicare benefits instead of asking millionaires…” Ugh. Baldwin is telling a moving story of caring for her “Nana” and slips into political speak — it just doesn’t work and breaks any mood they were building.

Sometimes you have to trust your audience to get the subtext. She’s talking about her elderly frail grandmother for christ’s sake, do you really need her to spout some policy talking point about medicare in the middle of it?  We get it, if you must, CG what you need or have her make the political personal… Something like, “That’s why protecting medicare for me isn’t a political fight, it’s personal because…”  Even that’s a little too much blah, blah, blah for my taste, but you get the gist.

2. I just don’t buy it. The words, the performance, it just doesn’t feel real to me.  I have no doubt Tammy Baldwin loved her “nana” very much, but the spot doesn’t come across as personal. The line “it was my honor to help take care of her” just sounds awkward.  It seems something so personal would be better explored in an interview, where the candidate can be more natural and emotional.

This ad seems like a missed opportunity, they had the chance to tell a powerful (and personal) authentic story about their candidate, and blew it. Sometimes playing it safe can fail too.


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