Posts Tagged ‘2012 Presidential’

Dueling ads – The Republican Presidential Primary

February 17, 2012

In sports there’s something called a challenge trade — when two teams trade underperforming players at the same position.  Romney and Santorum are engaged in something of a challenge air war.  Romney err, Restore our Future is up attacking Santorum, trying to undermine Santorum’s conservative street cred.

The ad is pretty mediocre, basically a message delivery device without much creativity. But the point is to try and muddy the waters and subvert Santorum’s message that he’s the real conservative — would the “right” choice really vote <gasp> to raise the debt limit? If Romney’s not a man of the people, then neither is Santorum the “Ultimate washington insider.” If I was grading the ad, I would probably say it’s about a C or C+ if I was feeling generous. There’s nothing really wrong about it,but there’s nothing compelling or interesting.  Actually not sure why they include the Romney stuff, it’s not really catchy

Santorum on the other hand is running a pretty interesting ad with an interesting strategy behind it. It’s a gimmick ad, but the gimmick works because it reinforces the message. “Rombo” is on the lose shooting mud at Santorum.  It’s actually a pretty clever concept, and they certainly go all the way with it, down to an actor who looks like Romney.  I like the concept the execution is good, but not great, but I think the strategy behind it is just as clever.

Rombo also is subtlety subversive — Romney isn’t the tough conservative he plays on TV (Rambo), but some kind of phony “Rombo” shooting a mud in a white shirt and tie. It’s a slight jab, but  the subtext might be more effective at capturing the anti-Romney malaise that Republican primary voters are feeling than the text.

Santorum can’t compete with Romney’s cash advantage (I saw it as at least 3:1). This ad is trying to functionally dislocate Romney’s advantage — it’s not an unusual strategy, but well played in this case. The hope is to remind voters of Romney’s negatives every time you see a Romney ad attacking Santorum. While, I’m not a fan of the ultimatum approach at the end, I still think given the execution of the ad it could be effective in helping to blunt Romney’s advantage.

By wrapping the message around such an entertaining and off-beat concept, Santorum might be able to poison Romney’s negative ads.

The easy winner this round is Santorum.  The only question is can Santorum continue to move and out flank Romney.

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Stuffed full

February 15, 2012

Rick Santorum is surging in the polls, and sure has a lot to say in his newest ad:

When I saw this ad, I wanted to comment about it, but can’t remember what I wanted to say. So je may have more to say in the ad than I have to say commenting about the ad, but here goes.

Let see he says:

First, he opens with a rhetorical question, who has the best chance to beat Obama… alright, I guess he’s setting us up for the big reveal… it’s him!

Next he declares himself a full spectrum conservative. I love when consultants make up phrases to cover some concept they need to explain quickly.  Of course, I’m not sure what full spectrum conservative means, but maybe all those half and quarter spectrum conservatives get it.

Third idea in the spot: A favorite of the tea party…. So this goes along with conservative full or half spectrum. But is the tea party really known for their strong stand on fighting corruption?

Forth, a jobs plan (cause you know, people care about jobs) that’ll make America an economic super power again. (How’s that? Well, he said it so it must be true.)

Fifth a summary of what they’ve said though now he’s a “trusted” conservative who can beat Obama.

That’s a lot of ideas to get across all at once, it feels like he’s trying to make up for lost time, and get in all his good arguments all at once. It’s a lot to take in, and even harder given the odd choice of music that sounds like it was stolen from an 80’s news open (wish I could find the scene from “Broadcast News” where the composer introduces his new opening music, and big finish).

Visually the ad is the typical with a lot of pretty shots of Santorum with his family (because you know he has values and he’s a full spectrum conservative) — not really interesting.

You never know the decision behind running an ad, all you can do it speculate, but it sure feels like the Santorum folks feel like they’re only getting one shot at this apple, so they better throw everything and the kitchen sink into one ad.  I can understand that desire, but I believe they would have been better off, slowing it down, and focusing on one or two things — like the conservative to beat obama theme, maybe letting the CG do some of the policy work (CG: “A jobs plan… Restore America to an Economic super power”).  Sometimes when you try to say it all, you say nothing. Not sure this ad fails that badly, but it kinda just gets lost in itself.

 

 

Hail to the chief

January 20, 2012

The president is up with his first ad.

When my wife forwarded me this ad, she added the comment that it seemed odd for a first ad.  Watching it, I have to agree.  You expect the first ad of the President to be bigger, more grand, more sweeping. Instead this ad is a small response ad on energy independence (not exactly a burning issue these days) — it feels more procedural rather than grand, more tactical than strategic.

Stepping back, I tried to think through the strategy behind leading with this ad.  My best guess is that this ad is setting up the message and themes of the campaign. Much in the same why a pitcher might setup his fastball by first throwing a change-up, I believe this ad is intended to prime the electorate.

1) The ad frames the race as Obama v. Billionaires. 

With super-pac spending out of control in the Republican primary, this ad is a shot across the bow, that Obama isn’t going to take it lying down. It also frames the race for the electorate, who are you going to believe Obama or secretive oil billionaires who are “not tethered to the facts”?

It also dovetails nicely with the theme that Obama is on the side of the middle class, while Romney has secretive oil billionaires on his side.  Who’s side do you want to be on in that fight?

2) Show that Obama is not just another politician.

It’s not about ethic or energy independence per se, those are macguffins for the real message: That he’s honest and he’s accomplished things other than health care and fighting over  budgets.

3) He already is seen as flash, this ad shows some substance.

We’ve seen Obama talking eloquently to huge crowds, we’ve felt the passion and flash. This ad is about the substance, the hard work of governing.

This ad stands as a good example of the kind of trench level ad that’s part of a larger ad campaign. It frames the story for independent voters, and injects itself into the narrative (responding to attacks against the president). On it’s own it’s pretty humdrum (and it feels like they cram one line too many into it), but as part of a larger more long term campaign it starts to make sense.

Is it 2012 already?

June 30, 2011

I reviewed the Crossroads GPS ad earlier this week, as you may remember they’re up with a $20 million buy.  Despite spending $20 million to run the ad, I found their ad cold, trying to make a rational case rather than wrapping an emotional case around some facts.

I came across this online video made by the Romney folks that takes on the jobs/economy theme much more effectively than crossroads.

Similar to the Crossroads ad, this one uses the President’s words and turns them against him. But where the Crossroads’ quotes felt out of context these feel devastatingly on point. While the CG’s with the numbers feel a little complicated, and I found hard to read, I did like the driving drum music, and the final shot of the empty factory was pretty powerful. Glad this ad is on the internet only and doesn’t have $20 million behind it.

Priorities USA responded to the Crossroads ad with this ad:

This spot is better than the Crossroads’ ad, while it didn’t break any new ground, and the portraits were neither particularly interesting (except for the kid at the end with the flag sitting on the soccer ball — I think it’s the ball that makes it feel authentic) nor innovative, they were trying to make the ad emotional. Gosh I do hate the ad in the TV effect showing your opponent’s attack ad, it so clunky, can’t we come up with something new? I did like the end line, “We can’t rebuild America if we tear down the middle class.”

Did I love this ad, no. It felt hackneyed and I would have rather seen more unoriginal portraits over the “ads blaming President Obama” section along with Rove headline rather than the ugly TV, it seemed to break the flow of the faces for me, and made the ad more political, and less about these people. At least they tried to hit the right emotional tone and tie it to the message, something the Crossroad ad failed to do.

These three ads/videos represent the opening salvo of the 2012 General election. Republicans want to make the election about Obama versus some hypothetical candidate, if they succeed then they win. Democrats want the election to be about Obama versus Romney or Pawlenty or Bachman or whomever, he wins that battle because they can’t compare (and their positions are ultimately unpopular). Of the three, the Romney video did the best job on striking that resonate chord. I still question if folks blame Obama for the economy or lack of jobs, they may be angry about it, but not sure they hold him accountable, voters have already made a decision about Obama, and worked the economy into that calculus.

If Republicans have any chance, they’re going to need more videos like Romney’s.


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