Archive for June, 2013

Funny is not being on-message (Represent.us ad)

June 17, 2013

Money in politics. It’s an important issue, but one that doesn’t really get the attention it deserves. It’s also one of those issues that if you ask most people they’d agree that money in politics has corrupted our political system. The problem is both the intentisty of their feeling, the vaguenes of what it actually means, and then ultimately, what do you do about the problem (I had  a poli sci professor, Professor Cobb who always said politicians never idtentify a problem without telling you the solution).

This ad is funny, and the gimmick at it’s core seems to be tightly connected to its central message, but I’d argue the ad is both off-message and off-emotion.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot today because it does seem to perfectly capture the zeigiest around this issue but it nagged at me. Here’s the thing, the image of an elderly man is funny. But targetting politicians is too easy, so while the image of an old man on a pole is unexpected, the message that politicians are stippers or whores isn’t so unexpected. Who doesn’t think that already?

Emotionally, the ad uses surprise and anger. But again the surprise isn’t on-message, and we’re already angry at our politicians if Congress’ approval rating means anything.

So really what is the ad asking the audience to do? It’s not driving us to action nor creating a new link or adding a new thought to our understanding of the influence of money in politics.

Refering back to the Apple signature ad I looked at yesterday, this ad does the exact opposite. Apple focuses on the experience that the features create. This ad focuses on the features (politicians will do anything for money) rather than the experience (how congress sells out the middle class to big corporate interests or whatever they’re trying to say).

Most of the time when I criticize gimmicks its because they’re only about getting attention and don’t connect to the core message. Here the issue is slightly different, the gimmick connects to the core, but I think Represent.us has chosen the wrong core. Maybe it gets Represent.us some attention, so in that sense it could be a useful proposition, but it feels like a wasted opportunity to frame an issue and offer a solution.

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Stop Shouting: Gomez attacks Markey

June 13, 2013

Well this just isn’t working:

I know the intent, but it just isn’t working.

It was done better here:

and here:

With the Lamont & Steele ads the tone is fun and light, the Gomez ad almost feels angry to me. There’s a tone deaf quality here, like they can’t hear what they’re how loud they’re shouting.

On top of that, they cram too many details into the tail end of the ad. Isn’t it enough to say, “Ed Markey is everything that’s wrong with congress…” and leave that as the message?

It’s good to be the king…

June 12, 2013

When you’re the king, you don’t have to worry about the competition and go negative.

When you’re the king, you can talk about experience not features.

When you’re the king, you can make ads like this one from Apple:

I find the ad a little too on the nose for me (it’s giving me  a little too much 4 instead of 2+2, especially in the open). This is one of those odd ads that’s both on-message and on-emotion, but still somehow misses the mark for me. I love that they don’t talk about features or innovations, I love that they don’t throw a bunch of numbers, I love the scene with the couple on the bridge laughing and taking a picture. A good brand is about the experience of the person using it, all those other things either add to the experience or don’t, Apple totally gets that.

So why don’t I particularly like this ad or rather, why do I think this ad isn’t working as well as the sum of its parts?

Back to my first point they’re giving us 4, when they should be giving us 2+2. as my friend said, the ad is trying a little too hard. I love the concept and feel of the ad, but I think the copy isn’t as good as they think it is. Because the copy is framing all those other elements, the ad can’t quite rise above it. I find the ad interesting, but not sure it’s good, somehow it doesn’t add up to the sum of it’s parts.

A blast from the past…

June 11, 2013

Doug Bailey, founder of the Hotline, died today. Reading a little about him, I discovered he was a political consultant, who worked for President Ford when he ran for re-election against Jimmy Carter. Which led me to this, never aired ad/video (alert: it’s four minutes long):

It’s interesting, with some modern touches, like the person on the street interviews, and some anachronisms, like wide collars and a catchy song that’s kinda awful at the same time. Beyond that, the controversy is at about 2:47 where they show Ford thrown off by a cherry bomb explosion (there were two assisnation attempts on him) and then pointedly say things have changed when a President can go to Texas in the open air — an obvious reference to Kennedy. (There’s also the mention of a university again a symbol of the discord of the 60’s.)

What struck me was how the symbols we use change so rapidly. A president in Texas or a president being embraced at a University would have less meaning or certainly different meaning today then it did. It makes me wonder if part of Clinton’s appeal to youth some how harkened us back to the discord of the 60’s as well, did it effect voters on an unconsious level?

Symbols are powerful tools. This video didn’t air because it was too controversial, even 12 years after Kennedy was killed. Symbols are powerful tools, but only in the right context.

If you don’t have something nice to say

June 7, 2013

If you read this blog, you know how it tickles me when consumer brands go negative.

Microsoft if you recall is also up with an ad against Google, seems like they’ve decided the best strategy is if you can’t say something nice about your product, just go negative against the other guy.  I was less than enthused about their attack on Google. This one play better. It’s what I would call a cute ad, generally enjoyable, but not breathtaking. It’s the kind of ad that’s amusing, but does it actually sell products?

In addition, Apple bashing has become so de rigueur, that the ad feels a little too trite or hackneyed.

Along the same lines is this ad for a Windows 8 phone:

Funny? Yes.

Memorable? Yes.

Effective? Huh.

I think they do a good job trying to tap into the meme that Apple and Samung are slugging it out, but I’m not sure their conclusion is effective. Thought in this ad, like the previous one I don’t know if I can put my finger on exactly why not.

At the end of the day, I guess neither ad creates a hole in my knowledge to fill. They’re amusing, but don’t necessarily get me interested in the product they’re trying to sell. Maybe it’s they lack credibility — Windows and Mircosoft is just a known entity that it’s hard to re-create your image, when it’s crafted in cement. In other words, it’s not just my opinion of Apple (or Samsung or google) you have to change, but it’s my opinion of Microsoft you have to change as well. And maybe not as well, maybe you have to change what I think of Microsoft (and windows) before they can go negative and change my opinion of other brands in the market place.

One of the greatest threats in a multi-party campaign is that the two front runners beat each other up so much, it leaves an opening for the underdog to sneak through. It seems that Microsoft (playing the part of the 800 lb underdog) is trying to do just that, I’m just not sure these ads are the best way to accomplish that goal.

 


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