When Story Fails…

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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One Response to “When Story Fails…”

  1. Leean O'C Says:

    Unfortunately, the candidate is a bit stiff bit to me the ad really hangs on on the sentence where she says that it was her honor to take care of her Nana when her Nana grew frail. She goes on to say that this experience is why she knows millionaires should pay more taxes. The minor problem first is that as Adam notes the story lacks impact, in part this is due to the performer and coaching a candidate in acting is a delicate business and not one I intend to address. However, the voice of the ad is something I intend to address. The writers of this script need to remember what their jr. high school English teachers taught them, namely that the active voice is more interesting and has more impact than the passive voice. Now onto the big problems. While Ms. Baldwin may have have been honored to take care of Nana, presumably she was also grateful that there were government resources available that helped her to do so and she wants to be elected so she be certain that all the nanas and papas are well taken care of and the way she is going to do this is by making sure millionaires pay their full share. As it stands now. There is a weak story that simply does not relate to the second half of the ad.

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