Posts Tagged ‘connection’

Being for the middle class doesn’t mean you have to be so mediocre

July 19, 2013

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MbYXOyIwaB4

Christine Quinn is the first candidate up in the NYC Mayor’s race. I only have two short comments to make about this relatively generic ad:

1. Even though she appears in every scene in the ad, I never get a sense of who she is, what kind of person, do I like her or not? As I said above, it’s all rather generic.

2. The final line: “While others talk about fighting for the middle class, I’ve been doing it…” Seems slightly ironic because we’ve just spent :30 seconds with you talking about fighting for the middle class. Yes, I understand she was “talking” about her accomplishments, but still I found it… odd. Maybe it’s because the ad is so generic, and I wasn’t emotionally invested so I’m nit-picking or maybe it’s they’re trying to hard to make their point, the ad yells “4” when it should be whispering “2+2.”

3. (Ok, I know I said two short comments, so you don’t have to read this one if you don’t want.) There’s just so many issues in the ad, I get it, you’re trying to create a sense of what’s she’s done, the breadth of her accomplishments, but it feels like they’re trying to say everything and instead they end up saying nothing.

It seems the middle class is the big issue of the NYC Mayor’s race given this ad and the previous Weiner video I reviewed. Frankly I think Weiner video did a better job of being on-emotion, and showing true empathy. This ad is a list of issues, but ends up less than the sum of it’s parts.

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Power of the personal

May 2, 2012

Two ads, well an ad and a video, that I thought were interesting though neither feels fully expressed somehow

This intro ad from Hector Balderas is pretty nice. I thought the first half was better than the second. The line “He understands the power of education in a way most senators never will” is particularly powerful. I kinda wanted the spot to end there. After that it turns to issues and policy and the spot loses me.

Also I would have liked a simple presentation of his village at the open, the execution isn’t quite right, though the copy is good.

I loved the copy of this ad. So powerful. The shots are awesome, and the sound effects are really well done (the child laughing at the beginning, you almost miss it, but it totally makes that opening sequence). And that beginning sequence, the personal connection, the connection to his values, his principles are what really makes this video work. Funny thing, about 50 seconds in, the video lost me. After his father, it seemed to get I don’t know political. Watching it the first time, I was totally engrossed, then I remember looking up because I was bored.

That’s the thing about both these videos. Once they turn from personal to political, from values to issues, they lost my attention, I want to stay connected, but they’ve stopped resonating, and I’ve started thinking (or worse, not paying attention).

One of my partners always says, voters don’t care about issues per se, they care about values. To the extent that these videos show the values of the candidates they have power, once they veer into issue territory, they become “political.”

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.

Dueling Arkansas ads

June 1, 2010

I had meant to write a dueling ads post when looking at the Halter ad, but I got distracted by other issues.

I find the Lincoln ad much weaker than the Halter ads.  The ad teeters on the brink of being interested and connecting, but swerves too much into rational argument and does not do enough to leverage the power of emotion.  Lincoln’s actually really good to camera, the problem is, I just don’t believe her.  I like the I know you’re angry at Washington, but I feel it isn’t followed up with anything, won’t back down to the Unions and Banks? Huh?

I wish she had just stared with, “I’m Blanche Lincoln, and I approve this message because I’d rather lose this election fighting for what’s right, than win by compromising on my values.  I know voters are angry….”  The other crap is really useless here, for Lincoln to win now, she has to show voters she gets it, she needs to connect with them, and show them she’s seen the light.

Now that’s pretty unlikely given that she hasn’t “gotten it” yet, and there’s little reason to believe she’s making anything other than an election eve conversion.  And that’s the problem, when you don’t really believe in anything (or at least don’t appear to believe in anything) other than getting re-elected, you don’t engender any loyalty in voters.  The mistake the campaign has made from the first ad I reviewed was trying to tell voters what was in it for them, rather focusing on connecting with voters.  Given recent polls, Arkansas Democrats are obviously decided what’s in it for them is sending a message.

Favorite Senate Candidate of 2010 (April Edition)

April 21, 2010

Cal Cunningham might be my new favorite candidate for congress.

So far he’s 2 for 2 in my book, with another strong ad.  I like the beginning with all the CG’s incorporated into the buildings.  I like how he becomes a part of his website, and I especially like the end tag: “I approve this message because North Carolina is where we fight back.”

It’s interesting (and effective) because he’s taking the other side’s rhetoric and making it his own.  I think it’s also effective because it’s vague enough that it let’s people read their own subtext into that.  It could be “fight back” against the government, “fight back” against Wall Street, “fight back” against Republicans.  I think Cunningham also sells this spot, he’s pretty good reading to camera.

My one criticism of the spot is that it’s very issues heavy,  I lose some of Cunningham in that section — I lose my connection to him.

Still, this is a very nicely done spot.

Not an ad

March 24, 2010

I wanted to take a moment from ads to link to this memo from David Mamet to the writers of the show “The Unit.”

Even though he’s talking about drama, I think there is a lesson for all ad makers and particularly political ad makers, namely: “THE AUDIENCE WILL NOT TUNE IN TO WATCH INFORMATION. YOU WOULDN’T, I WOULDN’T. NO ONE WOULD OR WILL. THE AUDIENCE WILL ONLY TUNEIN AND STAY TUNED TO WATCH DRAMA.” (his caps)

Now replace drama with emotion or connection, and I think you see where I’m heading.  The audience will not watch a commercial for information.  Look at that Reid ad from the last post compare it to the Lincoln ad, you think anyone was tune in for the information?

Another good lesson is this: “IF THE SCENE IS NOT DRAMATICALLY WRITTEN, IT WILL NOT BE DRAMATICALLY ACTED.

THERE IS NO MAGIC FAIRY DUST WHICH WILL MAKE A BORING, USELESS, REDUNDANT, OR MERELY INFORMATIVE SCENE AFTER IT LEAVES YOUR TYPEWRITER.”

This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way (trust me).  If an idea doesn’t work on the page, it won’t work when you film it, and it won’t suddenly work when edit it together.  I wish it would, but it doesn’t.  I think that’s actually the problem with the Halter ads, they don’t quite work, and that starts with the script.

Mamet closes the memo with: “I CLOSE WITH THE ONE THOUGHT: LOOK AT THE SCENE AND ASK YOURSELF “IS ITDRAMATIC? IS IT ESSENTIAL? DOES IT ADVANCE THE PLOT?”

I might change that to, “Look at your :30 script and ask yourself, ‘is it emotional?’ Does it connect? Does it advance the message?”

That’s as good advice as I could give about political ads.

More dueling ads in Arkansas

March 24, 2010

Long delay from blogging, sorry and thanks for sticking around.  Travel and real work keeping me from writing, but it’s time to focus now.  Bunch of health care ads coming up trying to frame the post debate debate.  I’ll try to look at those tomorrow.  In the meantime, back to Arkansas:

This is a beautiful ad.  I love the shots from the house to the silhouettes, to the details, to the shots of Lincoln in the committee room, really tight work.  The shots are so evocative, but I find them fighting with the script. The script is really a meat and potatoes script about being a committee chairperson and the power that brings to Arkansas.  I’ve never been sure if that line of reasoning (your incumbent has a lot of power) works.  It probably polls well, but I wonder if it’s too rational an argument to make. It almost feels like a bribe to me.  

In any case, while I’m not sure the imagery works with the transactional message, it’s a whole lot better than this Harry Reid ad which makes a similar argument to Nevada voters:

Compared to this Reid ad, the Lincoln ad feels like a ball of emotion.  The Reid ad is your standard political “good enough” ad, but it does nothing to connect.  Lincoln at least tries to connect by using the surrogate of the farmer to talk about her power, she tried to make it personal.  If you’re going to make an ad along the lines of the powerful incumbent, the Lincoln ad is about as good as you can get.

Two ads from primary challenger Bill Halter:

I just don’t get the coach ad.  It feels hokey and not serious enough to make Halter serious, but not really funny enough to be amusing.  


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