Posts Tagged ‘acting’

You call this negative?

April 15, 2013

For followers of this blog, you know I love it when consumer brands go negative:

1. It tickles me because many traditional advertisers have a holier than thou attitude towards negative advertising,

2. and it’s always interesting to see their takes on negative ads. Some like Apple do it very very well, others like Direct TV and Dish, eh not so much.

Mircosoft is the latest to join the negative ad bandwagon. They have a whole “don’t get scroggled campaign” which generally goes after google for being less than their vaunted “do no evil” policy. The appoach is interesting because previously they tried to show how their search engine Bing was superior. I guess that campaign wasn’t so successful so Microsfot decided they would (horrow) go negative.

So is their negative campaign any better than their positive one (which sucked)?

Wow, you get two ads for the price of one.

Ad One is two real people conversing casually… expect their spouting Bing talking points. These ads work to the extent that the acting and diologue sound authentic and real. This ad fails in that respect… fails pretty miserably. The acting is stiff, but maybe that’s cause the dialogue sounds more like they’re reading from a memo. Seriously Microsoft this is the best you can do?

Ad two is a ponteially interesting concept, having these goofy Internet type people, intereacting with the two actors because they know so much about him. I think the ad would have been better served moving full force with this concept, rather than trying to balance the two concept. It has potential for humor and more critically potential to show the viewer what’s wrong with Google, rather than telling them via awkward talking points.

This is almost a parody of a negative ad, and it’s neither this nor that. Not funny enough to be interesting and not pointed enough to make it’s point with force.  Without this sounding too snarky it feels like a pollster’s ad, all message but poor execution.

A contrast in styles

September 26, 2012

A couple more quick reviews today. A friend passed this West Wing reunion along:

It’s pretty clever, and actually does a good job of conveying some important information without sounding too political. Some of that is the format, a lot of that is good acting. It’s really amazing what good actors can do, the “bio” section of the video is really well done without too much fanfare.  It’s logs in at a little over four minutes, but doesn’t feel overly long. Makes me miss the West Wing too.

Next up another appearance for Elizabeth Warren. I think the script is pretty good hear, it’s conversational and common sense. It’s the kind of explanation you don’t hear a lot of in politics, straight forward, no spin, and it makes sense. My real problem with this ad is how stark it looks. It looks like a response ad from the 90’s shot on piss poor betacam. It’s flat and ugly. I understand that it might have been thrown together quickly, but surprised at how bad it looks given the ubiquitousness of quality cameras — especially in the Boston area.

I keep thinking the starkness was a deliberate choice, especially given the fact that there’s no music, but whether is a choice or not (Boris would say, “Your work is on the screen”) it’s unfortunate. Does it matter, maybe maybe not, but I think if the ad looked a little bit better it would be a home run, even looking pretty flat and dark, it’s a good spot because the message is right on.

Reality speaks for itself.

June 5, 2012

Been a long absence — a lot of travel, and I keep meaning to post, but I’ve been too tired and distracted.  But I saw this ad today, and it kinda annoyed me, so I thought I’d take ten minutes to share my annoyance:

The ad is actually shot pretty well, nice shots, readers of this blog should be able to guess what drives me nuts about the ad…. Did you guess yet?

I think the acting in this spot is flat, and it’s made worse by the language, “Folks who want to keep things going the same way in North Carolina….” Lines like that are political rhetoric not how people talk, it’s a talking point, not casual conversation.  They try to juxtapose that language with some casual lines (“is he not well,” “good guy…”).  I guess the reason this spot bothers me so much, is that it feels like the creators are smart enough to know they can’t just use talking points, so they’re trying, but they can’t help themselves.

The lose the real in the message. If this ad had tried to have less message, but more real, it would be a better ad. Still it was shot pretty well…..

 

You’ll pry that soda out of my dead sausage fingers…

February 9, 2011

With all the hoopla and spectacle of the Super Bowl ads, I almost forgot there was actually one political ad that aired during the big game.

Let me get this off my chest right away: This is exactly the type of ad I hate. A supposed real person, railing against the latest government injustice.  The “real person” in question is unusually well informed and amazing speaks like a policy wonk.

Sigh…, do these spots ever work? (Ok, this one did, but then again this one didn’t have actors channeling a poll.) This ad is obviously aimed at a certain segment of the population — folks who are angry and think government is too involved in our lives, so it may have some effect in getting them fired up against the Soda tax.

But really, “Government needs to trim it’s budget fat and leave our grocery budgets alone…,” I mean come on who wrote that line? Where does that come from?

What makes me so angry about this ad is that it’s essentially a cynical attempt to tie itself into some existing discontent. Oh, people are angry, tea party, government bad, socialism, blah, blah, blah, let’s make the ad about that.  There are no principles there except trying to scare folks into thinking that government is coming for your soda.  Look, I’m sure some people will see this ad, and they’ll get angry, but a lot of people remembered Mr Whipple too.

(As an aside, interesting to note that the most memorable super bowl ads were not the same as the most liked — which is more important…?)

Is this an effective, I don’t know, but let’s say that it is, does that mean it’s ok to create a badly executed, badly written cynical ad? Shouldn’t we be trying to do better?

I really hate ads like this one, have I said that already?

Actors, acting & bad scripts

September 1, 2010

Is this ad an acting problem? A script problem? Or both?

I think I’ve said it here before, but if you’re going to use actors, you need a script that sounds real (in addition to actors who can act).

“Strickland must have thought we’d forget he voted for favored trade status for China…” Yeah, that’s how real people talk.

Later, “Strickland, same guy who’s Ohio state problem…”

It’s like they took a narrator’s lines and through them into the mouths of “real people.”

The problem with an ad like this one is if you don’t believe or relate to the people (the actors), then I think you’ll miss the point of the ad. I know I did, didn’t believe it for one second.

Sometimes the best ads

August 4, 2010

Come while you’re watching TV. The summer months are where I watch the least TV, and I realized today that I was missing seeing the ads I usually catch on prime time.  Tonight watching a re-run of one of my favorite Next Generation episodes, I caught this ad:

Maybe it’s because I’m a dad, but I loved the simplicity of this ad. I’m not sure it’ll make me buy a subaru, but I enjoyed the story telling, the way is sucks you in with the unexpected, even the punchline isn’t overdone. In fact one of the things I really appreciate about the ad is the acting is well done both by the dad and the young girl, it’s not overplayed.

It’s also the kind of ad that plays well on paper. One thing I’ve learned with concept ads is this: If it doesn’t work on paper, it won’t work on the screen.

BTW, the ad also follows Dan Heath’s three rules that I listed in this post.

The Message and the messenger

November 10, 2009

I try to keep my politics out of how I view an ad, and while I know that’s not really possible (our unconscious brains are constantly providing commentary on the world in the form of “feelings” that bubble up into consciousness), I at least try not to judge an ad on where its message falls on the political spectrum.

With this ad though it’s really tough.  Not sure why, but I hate this ad.  It’s an obvious parody of the Apple Mac/PC ads, but it’s a really bad parody.  It has none of the wit or whimsy that makes those ads so clever and cutting. In the original ads, the PC guy is likable, here m the Government run health care plan guy is especially annoying, and even the girl is annoying.  I don’t really find either of them likable at all. The acting is pretty weak too.

(Here’s a tip about actors, always find people who can act first, then worry about if they “look” the part.  I’ve seem more bad casting because someone who can’t act is given a part because they look like

But I worry, is it the message of the ad that rubs me the wrong way, or the messenger, the ad itself?  Am I just coming up with a rationale to make sense of my feeling of hate?

I don’t know (and probably can’t know without years of therapy), but bad execution really rubs me the wrong way, and this ad feels like they ripped off the form without really having an understanding of how it worked.  It has the rhythm of the original, the look (though it’s a pretty weak green screen floor), but it’s a little like listening to a schizophrenic talk, he uses real words, but put together they’re gibberish.

And on top of that it ends so abruptly.

It is a scorpion after all.

October 29, 2009

Have you ever heard the story of the scorpion and the frog? The scorpion wants to cross a creek so asks a frog for help.  The frog protests, “You’re a scorpion, you’re going to sting me.” The scorpion replies, “Why would I do that, if I sting you we both die?  If you take me I’ll owe you a favor.”  The frog thinks it over and decides it’s not the worst thing to have scorpion owe him a favor so he tell the scorpion to hop on, and they start making their way across the creek.

About half way across, the scorpion stings the frog.  The frog is clearly shocked and angry at the betrayal can only ask, “Why? Now we’ll both die….” The scorpion says, “What can I say, I am a scorpion after all….”

I couldn’t help thinking of that story watching this ad and feeling vaguely disappointed, then wondering why?  This is the same type of ad that Daggett ran the first time why should I expect something different from his team just because the nature of the race has changed — he received the Star-Ledger endorsement, Christie has fallen like a rock, Daggett has risen in some polls, and the two main party candidates have generally thrown enough mud at each other that voters aren’t particularly excited about the election. Oh, that’s why…, huh.

What’s wrong with the ad in my opinion?  (I may be repeating myself from post about Daggett’s first ad, but what the hell.) Well, again the production values stink.  If you’re going to do something like this do it right, this looks cheap and to voters will feel like a third party candidate ad, not the ad of a real player prepared to pull the upset.

The guy playing Christie is pretty good, but the Corzine look alike is pretty bad.  Every time he says his lines you can see the gears moving in his head, not a good way to describe an actor working.  It would have been better to find someone who looks less like Corzine and is a better actor. And frankly, Daggett isn’t compelling enough either in his interactions with the look-alikes or to camera to make this work.

It’s not all bad, the ad is cute, the “You don’t spend it,” line has some legs to it I think, and could get remembered.  The end message is right where it needs to be, “It’s never wrong to stand up for the right person,” as fears grow that voters will abandon Daggett to vote for a “real” candidate, not some long shot with no chance of winning.

And maybe that’s the thing, this ad does nothing else to make me think Daggett has a chance to win.  It’s not professional enough to give him credibility, it’s not serious enough to make him appear serious, it’s not funny or clever enough to really be memorable, and it just doesn’t feel authentic to who Chris Daggett is, this feels like a costume he put on for Halloween (there’s my requisite Halloween reference)

On top of it all, the spot doesn’t tout his endorsement, which in my mind is a great validator for him, gives him real credibility, the biggest paper in the state thought enough of him to endorse him, why shouldn’t you? Do they think people know about it? That it doesn’t matter or they didn’t want to cut the cutesy intro to the ad to insert a message point of real substance?

Harsh I know.  I was tell a friend that if I lived in Jersey, I don’t know who I would vote for, I want to be compelled by Daggett, but this doesn’t do it.  I guess that’s why I can’t help felling like that damned frog, “Why?…”

Well, we all know the answer.

Sigh…

September 14, 2009

Wow. They get points for trying, I guess. I mean I appreciate that they tried a conceptual script instead of the usual blah, blah, blah. But when you just take a narrator script and put it into an actor in a concept (in this case a “political consultant” talking to his candidate after losing), it just doesn’t work. If you’re going to go with the concept you got to go all the way, that’s not close to how real people speak, even political consultants.

On top of that, either this poor actor got bad direction or he’s not a good actor, but in any case, he seemed as phony as the dialogue.

On top of all that, it looks like a public access shoot, with all the good (and cheap) formats of video they have out there these days, why did they decide to shoot this one?

Do they really think this is going to win the day?

Bad acting, bad dialogue, and bad looking make for a bad execution, and I don’t have to guess, I know that makes for bad politics.


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