Posts Tagged ‘B&W’

Sometimes it’s not black or white

April 9, 2010

I was trying to find something to write about this week, there are ads out there now, but for the most part, I was looking for something interesting to say or at least something interesting to show.  I was going to write about Ned Lamont’s new ad, but now I can save that till next week.

My friend Emily sent me this ad, and asked me what I thought.  She said “Would love to know what you think. I don’t really know how I feel about it…”

After watching the ad (well, actually it’s a web video since it’s almost a minute and a half long), I can understand what she means.  On one hand I think it’s a pretty good negative attack on Specter in a Democratic primary.  The people are believable, the music is great, the shooting style is simple but effective. I like the B&W effect, it’s interesting.  I also appreciate their restraint in the use of CG, which can be so overused (it can be like a bad powerpoint presentation, where the speaker is constantly reading from the slide, that you’re reading as well).  It’s paced really well (which you can do a little easier when you’re not locked into :30 or :60 increments), and I especially like the silent opening just being introduced to the people without any signal of what it is about.  It gets me curious about what’s to come, it engages my attention.

So it’s an honest effective swipe at Specter, that goes after the Democratic base.  It doesn’t feel mean spirited at all, which is in part what makes it so effective.

I think the part that is confusing, and maybe what my friend is reacting to, is the “Dear President Obama….”  It feels like a Red Herring.  It feels to me, in part, that the President Obama stuff is more a MacGuffin than an actual appeal. It gets you some good earned media (Sestak appeals to Obama, “We want Change” kind of headline), it offers a nice frame to the video, and gives some signal to the kind of folks Sestak is trying to appeal to.

Still the “Dear Mr President” frame also feels out of place, it just doesn’t quite work on that front, and I think that’s the confusing part.  It seems like an unnecessary attack on the President, while trying to embrace what he stands (stood?) for.

I could have titled this post “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever #4 or 5, or whatever number we’re at for the title.  This spot has so many things I like about it, but I can see how you can be on the fence about it because it is confusing or disorienting in a way.

To answer my friend’s question, I really like this video.  Despite the odd frame, I think it works, it’s very understated, but makes it’s point in an authentic way.

Review: Chris Dodd Fighting Back for Us

June 2, 2009

This may be the first ad in the 2010 election season.  If you’re an incumbent US Senator running an election ad in May, a year and a half before the election, well, it doesn’t take a pollster to know you’re in trouble.  According to Nate Silver at, this is number 3 on the list of seats most likely to change parties and number one among incumbents.  That’s quite a feat.  Nate finishes his analyisis with, “the important thing about Rob Simmons is not that he’s Rob Simmons, but that he’s not Chris Dodd.”

That’s interesting in light of the ad, an ad for Chris Dodd, about Chris Dodd, in which Chris Dodd hardly appears.  Even when he does appear, it’s in a group shot alongside President Obama.

Form (on a scale A-F): B-

Nothing really compelling about the form, it’s a pretty standard-issue political ad.  They did a nice job of making the stills interesting; adding the black and white to the end gives those images a sense of weight and importance — not inventing the wheel, but nicely done, nonetheless.  Pretty moves on the pictures.  I like that they didn’t try to cram too many shots into the spot and kept the pacing nice and easy.

Still, it’s striking that Dodd hardly appears in the ad, and when he does, he’s not front and center.  Between Obama and the woman in pink (Rep. Carolyn Maloney), it’s hard to find Dodd in that group shot.  I think that was deliberate.

Function (on a scale A-F): Incomplete

Is it a cop-out to say time will tell?  The ad is an obvious attempt to re-position Dodd: look he’s with Obama! You like Obama, Obama said his name, he helps people and fights big mean credit card companies, you don’t like them.  Get it?

The only 2 pictures of Dodd show him in a group with Obama in the center.  Dodd’s part of the Obama team.  You might be angry with him, but Obama needs him — Obama says that in his Dodd shout out, and it’s reinforced in the visual.

Final Grade (on a scale A-F): B-

Can one ad undo the damage that has been done to Dodd’s reputation?  Probably not.  Fortunately for Senator Dodd, it’s early enough in the election cycle that it doesn’t have to carry all the water in one audio-visual package.  This ad is the first of many to come.

A new study published in Advertising Age says “Though most campaigns cluster ads in a short period of time, consumers retain information better if it’s spaced out over longer intervals.” (Their emphasis.)  If this is the first of a long series of ads reframing Dodd, it’s probably a modest success.  If Dodd can continue to avoid the kind of special treatment stories that got hin into trouble, then this story can help smooth over the damage done and remind people why they voted for Senator Dodd over and over again.

This ad is also a good reminder that its hard to judge an ad out of the context of the campaign. If Dodd wins next November (assuming he makes it out of a primary), nobody will remember this ad, but ti probably played some small role in changing the Dodd story from a Seantor who’s out for himself to a Senator who is fighting for folks.  In that way, its kinda like the grunts on the ground in a war, doing its duty to the best of its ability, but part of a larger effort.

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