Posts Tagged ‘believable’

I’m not a SOB…, I’m you.

November 15, 2010

I miss political ads.  There I said it, you heard it.  I miss them, in all their glorious negativity and cliche grainy shots, I miss them. But just as I going to start a loop of the Daisy Ad, Morning in America, Willie Horton (which is actually a horrible ad), and Fast Talker, along comes my savior, the Chicago Mayor’s race.

Hey this guy looks familiar (actually he looks a little like George Clooney the way he’s dressed and with that salt and pepper hair). If I was Rahm’s political consultant, I would tell him the biggest hurdle he would have to overcome is to make him accessible. Some of this opinion might be inside the beltwayitis, but the notion Rahm and his personality are almost mythic.

The question of how to introduce a candidate is always a hard one. I like that they decided not to go for a traditional biography spot instead opting for a vision ad.  Well, really the vision part of it is a MacGuffin, it seems to me what they’re really trying to do is make Rahm a real likable person — to allow voters to connect to him.  They do a pretty good job of that too, grounding him as someone who is passionate about Chicago.

That’s a pretty powerful opening line, “Chicago is a great city, with great people, and I want my children to feel as passionate about it as I did growing up.” There’s a lot going on in that one line, some bio (has kids, he grew up here), some character (he’s passionate), and some values (a sense that he’s going to fight, that he wants to pass something important down to his kids). It’s something every parent can connect with, passing something down important to their children. That in and of itself makes Rahm human in a way a more tradition spot could not. It’sa line that’s working with the philosophy of “show don’t tell.”

Is this a great spot? No, but it’s a solid B, maybe B+. Visually it has the requisite shots of the candidate talking with folks, shaking hands interacting with kids in the classroom when you discuss education or with cops when you’re talking about “our streets.” No, the visuals are pretty standard and a couple (the rack focus taking Rahm out of focus and the end shot where’s he shaking hands, but not really looking at the guy) are odd choices.  The documentary style adds to a sense that he’s not pre-packaged and it creates a sense of reality that enhances the believability of the ad.

Essentially this ad is trying to do what the Christine O’Donnell witch spot could not, which is to take the image folks might have of the candidate and turn it (or spin it if you will) into something more positive. This spot works because it doesn’t ever go to far from what folks already know — if they had tried to show Rahm as all soft and cuddly then it would feel fake. Instead, they take the strengths of his image, and say he’s passionate and can make tough choices, now that’s believable.

My biggest complaint of the witch ad was that O’Donnell didn’t seem believable, this ad doesn’t have the problem, I think it’s very believable, and does a good job framing Rahm, which is ultimately the goal of your initial ad.

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April 28, 2010

I was going to post about this ad from Pete Domenici, Jr.

This ad is a prime example of teleprompter gone bad, I swear you can see him squinting to read from the prompter.  The long and the short of it is, if you’re running for governor your ads have to have enough gravitas for the office (especially if you have a famous last name).  Now there are exceptions to that rule, but those exceptions must portray the candidate as viable and be authentic.  This is almost a bad parody of a political ad.

This is the ad that bumped the teleprompter gone bad series:

As tough as it is, I’m going to leave the controversial issue of English only aside.  This is going to sound scary, but I think this is a pretty effective ad.  There’s one too many close up shots of Tim James walking towards the camera, but other than that, I can see this ad connecting with a lot of people.  My old film school teacher Boris used to say, “Guys, close up is mystery.”  Here the close up creates a connection, and I think the mystery is that you can read into Tim James the qualities you want.

I appreciate the close-up only because it indicates that the director made a choice.  It would have been easy (and safer) to shoot this wide, then go close, then wide, standard stuff.  The fact that they stayed close and had James walking tells me that they were thinking about it, as opposed to doing the same old.  I appreciate that kind of thoughtfulness.

I think Tim James himself does a great job of delivering the message. Again, politics aside, he’s believable and tough, but he also he comes across as strong and not an asshole or some hair on fire radical (again, politics aside).  That’s a tough act to accomplish when you’re talking about English only.

I find the ending particularly compelling. While the pause (or “beat”) may be slightly longer than I would have liked, I think it’s effective, “Maybe it’s the businessman in me, but we’ll save money and it makes sense…*beat*… Does it to you?” I think that pause, the line helps to draw the audience in, gives them time to engage with the argument, and makes James seem even more reasonable, he’s asking what I think —  wow he must really care.  The soft ending helps defuse the hard message. If tea party politicians start figuring out how to put a candy coating on their message it could be a real big problem for progressives.

My partner (the Rabin part of Rabin Strasberg) reminded me of the similarly themed Buchanan for President ad “Meatball”:

The ad is similar in that it takes the same inflammatory issue and deal with it in a soft way — in this case humor.  This ad is also a good example of a gimmick that actually works. It’s memorable  and on message. Of course, the argument didn’t take Buchanan very far in 2000, I’m curious how it’ll work for Tim James.


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