Posts Tagged ‘copy’

Michael Sams Visa Ad

May 9, 2014

Good copy.

Simple visuals.

But that end line “everywhere”?

Does the message connect to what we already think of Visa?

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When Punchlines fall short

May 8, 2014

I found this video interesting but ultimately unsuccessful. Watching the girl go through her life was heartbreaking, made more so, by her narration. The repetition of the line “I didn’t cry” is really effective at punctuating her pain but also reminding us of her pride and resilience in the face of the horrors she faces.  I felt the punchline which is really the call to action just falls flat. After all she’s gone through, is her biggest problem really she doesn’t have water? I guess maybe…, I don’t know, but it moves the video from an emotional appeal to a rational one, suddenly I’m thrust into the position of having to judge whether water is at the level of child marriage or your mother is a prostitute, that’s not really the level Water is Life wants to be operating.

Frankly I’m not sure if this ad is motivating at all. There’s so much wrong with the poor girl’s life, how is fixing one thing going to make it right, it feels so daunting, that you just want to give up.

This video from Save the Children takes another tact. It tried to use humor and surprise to get your attention (as opposed to Water is Life which just uses shock value).  The punchline here is more effective, but I found myself distracted because I was feeling sorry for the models. It felt like they were being punked, and I shared their discomfort rather than engaging with their message.  That’s where this video falls short, I can’t transfer my discomfort with the execution to being upset about the facts they’re presenting. The message is clear, but the emotions are muddied.

I think something both these videos show is the importance of the punchline. Both these videos depend on their punchline to deliver their message and their emotion, but they both fall short because the punchline doesn’t connect with what came before either emotionally or in terms of message.

 

 

What is a successful ad?

February 12, 2014

I read a great book last year called “Hannibal and Me.”  In a nutshell, the book talked about the writer’s obsession with the great Carthaginian General Hannibal. In examining his life, he makes a larger point about success and failure. Rome never defeated Hannibal in battle. At one point he killed something like 1/5 of all Romans who were eligible to serve in the army. Was Hannibal a success or failure?

Sixteen years always fighting the much larger Roman army on their home turf never defeated, and ultimately never victorious… Hannibal never took Rome, never brought Rome to its knees. He was defeated by a Roman General named Fabius. Fabius’ strategy, constant retreat, he never won a battle.

How we define success and failure is often overlooked, but it is critical to remember what your ultimate goals are.

Which brings us to these ads:

I think these are both terrific ads, great copy, well filmed with compelling visuals (wait for it, here it comes….). But I have to wonder if the build up matches the payoff.

After all that does an apron really equal progressive? Is that what Progressive is about? Is it about hard work, about the people who show up everyday without a hint of glory? That’s not what I think of as Progressive Insurance, they’re the ones with Flo and low rates, maybe.

And the second ad, is beautiful. Its how anyone in love feels when they look at the person they love, it captures a truth, and in doing so it says we get it, we understand you. I was with the ad, in with the payoff (how long did it take for those flowers to sprout) that was a little sappy. But its selling what? Hair care products, what? How are they involved in love? I mean the woman had great hair, but what? Now maybe that brand has some affiliation with that message, but still I felt cheated at the end.

So are these good ads? Yes. Are they successful ads? I don’t think so…. Which brings me back to my first question: Are these good ads? Can an ad that doesn’t succeed in pushing its message, that doesn’t change the image of a brand or build upon its existing image be a good ad?

I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think it can.

Another Super Bowl Ad review…Wide Right

February 11, 2014

I think most Super Bowl ads miss the point.

You’re on the largest ad stage there is, and most ads aim to get attention instead of driving emotion and message — you already have folks attention. The SuperBowl is probably the one event where people are as excited to watch the commercials as they are to watch the event.  Do you need to entertain, yes, but the right emotion can do that and leave a memorable impression about your brand.  Instead brands seem to settle for spitting on the table, they go after the attention they already have but forget about resonating or connecting.

In the order I saw the ads:

This ad had me hooked. Great copy, “The World is full of giants…,” interesting visuals, and a great read by a child narrator. It was a paean to the little guy, the underdog in all of us (and who doesn’t love the underdog). The ad had me hanging on the edge of my seat, waiting for the reveal, I thought it was the new Chrysler ad, a tribute to America and that uniquely American juxtaposition as the last super power and the world underdog. It had me… until it became and ad for Maserati.

WTF? How? Who? Is Maserati really out there fighting giants? The cars cost like $100,000, they aren’t underdogs at all. It was a jip, and I felt cheated. Seriously the ad left me angry, that they had manipulated me.

Got a laugh from the ad, but so what? Case and point, it entertained, but what’s the message? What’s emotion that Dorritos wants me to feel about their chips? Something worth stealing? Funny, but ultimately pointless, classic super bowl ad.

Huh? What? Who’s the ad for?

Ok, this might have been the best ad of the night. Maybe I was just the right demographic, but it was on-message, it was clever, and it was entertaining. The ad shows Radio Shack gets its out of touch in today’s world, that its been stuck in the 80’s (for lack of a better decade), it says they get they aren’t servicing your needs, and that’s going to change. Good use of the platform to announce a big shift in approach.

Was it a great ad, earth shakingly good? No, it was a little too irreverent to be great, but it was good and made its point.

I know I’m supposed to get all chocked up about this cancer survivor ad from Chevy, but I think it really missed the mark.  Too slow, and why is Chevy supporting Cancer survivors? I mean we all support cancer survivors, but what’s Chevy’s particular interest? How does this reinforce their brand image or message? Just seemed like a slow random spot that was trying too hard to make me feel something.

I liked this commercial too. It says something about the brand, and pertaining to my earlier point, it taps into a particular American contrast — feeling great, but being under estimated or appreciated. My problem with the ad is I have no what Weather Tech is or what they do. I love the positioning, but needed just a little more reinforcement of the information for this ad to be truly effective.

I thought the ad was funny, but unlike the Darth Vader ad,the irreverence in this ad didn’t really connect to a larger message. Somehow there was less a sense of truth in this ad that I could relate to. My kids thought it was funny though, though anytime they hear the word butt they laugh.

I liked this ad too. Unlike the Maserati ad, this ad fits into my  existing schema of what Coke stands for. Its interesting in so far, as its the type of ad a mature brand like coke can run, but a newer brand (Weather Tech) has more trouble pulling off.

I thought this was an interesting ad. I liked the use of Bruce Willis, and thought it was a good message for Honda. The end of the ad feels a little too silly for the message, it felt off tone. I think the ad would have been fine with just Bruce Willis or just someone hugging him (or him hugging his kids or something). The strange guy feels out of place.

Gosh, I would have liked to like this ad. Chrysler is tapping into those big themes, America, the Underdog, exceptionalism, and it had Bob frickin Dylan. I loved their “made in Detroit” campaigns from the last couple of Super Bowls. But this ad just never hooked me. Maybe it was the opening line, “Is there anything more American than America?” Is that supposed to be profound or ironic?

I mean great images, and it did have some great lines, like “you can’t import original, “you can’t import the heart and soul of every man and woman working on the line,” and  “So let Germany brew your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phones, we will build your cars….”

But in the end, the pieces never add up. I wonder if ultimately that’s because of the choice of Dylan, who I see as so anti-establishment. The words seem ironic coming from a man who seems so anti-American exceptionalism in a way (not saying Dylan is anti-America, just that his brand runs counter to all those things associated with… well this ad). Eminem made sense for Chrysler, he’s associated with Detroit and has that edgy bravado they were portraying, Dylan, well, why Dylan? It just never clicked for me despite the various elements.

I thought this was a really nice ad for a sport that’s in decline due to worries about concussions.

It captures a truth, it captures all the things I love about the sport, it captures that unique sense of togetherness, of connection, that being a fan of a team can bring. It was kinda a beautiful spot, and I think potentially a powerful message.

Finally what would a Super Bowl be without a Scientology commercial…? Wait, what? Ok, this one was a bit of a surprise. Religion like politics are hard to judge because so much of your own identity comes into play. That being said, I think this is a pretty good commercial. While it didn’t appeal to me personally, I think it could be effective to connecting with folks who feel lost into’s world. The commercial felt modern and assured, it offered a solution — spirituality (not religion mind you) and technology. That’s a potentially a powerful mix.

As far as branding or re-branding the church, I think if you’ve never heard of or though about scientology its a really effective ad, if you had some idea of what Scientology is before hand, I not so sure it would help to overcome whatever doubts you (or I) hold.

So that’s it. Like the game, I thought the ads were mostly a bust. There were a few good ones, but in general I thought the ads missed the mark.

Don’t see this every day….

January 31, 2014

The Super Bowl is one of the most anticipated events in the advertising world, and I’ll definitely be writing some thoughts on the ads post game next week.

But this ad caught my eye not only because its not the usual type of Super Bowl ad, but also because it’s not the usual issue you see advertised.

I liked the sparseness of the copy, and some of the images were very compelling. I also thought the punch line was strong, like a good punch to the gut, you’re watching and wondering where this is going, and when it gets there, I found it surprising (maybe *because* they haven’t run ads around this issue before). The ad also is very effective at humanizing a minority group that is often lost in the shuffle (at least on the East Coast, maybe less so out West or in states with large reservations).

They aren’t just Indians or Native Americans, they’re people  — fathers, sons, mothers, daughters etc, just like you and me. I like the sense of Native American pride that it evokes without resorting to the usual myth making or hyperbole. There’s just a nice lyrical nature to the ad.

I had three issues with the ad:

1. It’s too long. Maybe they felt they had to go big because its the superbowl, but the message is so simply and cleanly delivered, they could have done it much more effectively in a minute. About half way through I started to lose interest at the repetition (interesting as it was, it was becoming familiar), and I’m not sure that extra minute adds anything to the message or to the emotional punch. You get it after 30-40 seconds, don’t need it reinforced and all it does it take away from the emotion punch at the end.

2. I found some of the images not as compelling as others.

3. Not sure if this is an issue or not, but I was struck by the native accent of the narrator. I understand the reasons for using a Native American to narrate the ad, and I’m not sure using the standard narrator would have been appropriate or effective, but it was distracting for me in the sense that I was thinking about the narrator instead of the content of the message or images (maybe that also goes back to point 1, it was too long, so I was able to “see the boom in the shot” because my attention was wandering).

Still overall I thought this was a really nice spot, and I wonder if the more lyrical copy, slower pace, and overall tone of the ad will help it contrast especially with the other Super Bowl ads that often feel the need to assault your senses.

 

Just because…

August 8, 2013

Not an entire review, but Just because I like them, here is Spitzer’s newest entry. I like the fact they have two versions of the same ad, though I prefer the narrator version. The CG version I find hard to read and the CGs break up the visual flow.

Still good copy and nice visuals.  I’m good with that.

Take the bull by the horns. Spitzer’s first ad

July 23, 2013

When I talk about confronting the elephant in the room, this is exactly what I mean. I when I said Weiner needed to own his mistakes, to incorporate his fall into the rationale for running again, this is what I mean. This ad grabs you right from the start, and it leads with the most important information in a direct way.

“When you dig yourself a whole you can either lie in the rest of your life or you can do something positive….” That’s a great line. Spitzer appears to be talking to an interviewer, but regardless of whether it was written for him or he came up with it, it’s good copy and it’s well delievered. In fact, this ad reminded me of what I like about Spitzer. As I said to a friend, he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s a son of a bitch who’s on my side. That’s really important in politics, but especially for a position like Comptroller, where,… well let’s face it nobody really knows what they’re supposed to do, but you know it’s about making sure things run the way they’re supposed to.

This ad also does a great job of telling a story. Who’s side is Spitzer on? Yours. Who’s he against? Wall Street, big banks, special interests. I think that works because it doesn’t confuse listing issues or accomplishments with telling a story. The subtext could easily be… Once upon a time there was a guy who went after wall street and took on the powerful interests. They didn’t like him very much. Then he made a mistake… Now, he’s risen from the grave to right that wrong, they still don’t like him very much. Good, fuck ’em.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what he says in that section, but what he says is less important than the sense it conveys. (Frankly, I’m not sure what the lesson here is. Is it just a well delivered line? Is it his conviction or past story that we’re familiar with?)

The spot loses me about 40 seconds in when he starts listing his accomplishments, “When I… blah… blah… blah…” Maybe it’s because it seems more about him than us? Or maybe it’s because it’s a little on the nose, a little too much 4 instead of 2+2.  I’d be alright with ending it with “Everyone deserves a fair shot.” Think the “… even me” not only should have been left unsaid, I think it weakens everything that came before it. Is it about him or us? Is he the fallen hero seeking selfless redemtion slaying demons? (They do a great job of tapping that archetype, btw) Or is he a self-absorbed egomaniac who can’t stand being our of the limelight?

I should also mention the visuals, the close up of the glasses, the empire state building shot, which are really good.

All in all, I think this is a really good spot, that has flaws, but also addresses the biggest hurdle Spitzer would face his own fall from grace.

It’s good to be the king…

June 12, 2013

When you’re the king, you don’t have to worry about the competition and go negative.

When you’re the king, you can talk about experience not features.

When you’re the king, you can make ads like this one from Apple:

I find the ad a little too on the nose for me (it’s giving me  a little too much 4 instead of 2+2, especially in the open). This is one of those odd ads that’s both on-message and on-emotion, but still somehow misses the mark for me. I love that they don’t talk about features or innovations, I love that they don’t throw a bunch of numbers, I love the scene with the couple on the bridge laughing and taking a picture. A good brand is about the experience of the person using it, all those other things either add to the experience or don’t, Apple totally gets that.

So why don’t I particularly like this ad or rather, why do I think this ad isn’t working as well as the sum of its parts?

Back to my first point they’re giving us 4, when they should be giving us 2+2. as my friend said, the ad is trying a little too hard. I love the concept and feel of the ad, but I think the copy isn’t as good as they think it is. Because the copy is framing all those other elements, the ad can’t quite rise above it. I find the ad interesting, but not sure it’s good, somehow it doesn’t add up to the sum of it’s parts.

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.

What more do you want?

March 1, 2012

If you follow my twitter feed, I mentioned how much I loved this ad. I was going to leave it at that, but a friend of mine has been encouraging me to blog more (guess they don’t follow Twitter), so here goes:

I loved this ad.  First of all it’s a great execution of a good concept. The production values are top notch, but more than that, they really trust the concept, going all the way, and allowing the concept to speak for the brand.  They show the values of the Guardian rather than have a narrator who tells you, “The Guardian, the whole picture — our voice and yours…” or some other bullet point.

The details are nicely done as well from the copy (the police raid yelling “little pig, little pig let us in”) to the way they inter-weave the story between web, headlines, user commentary, to the graphics — seriously this is top notch stuff.

Also, its both telling a compelling story, but maybe more importantly a familiar story with a twist. Using the three little pigs is a clever way to spiral out a story we’ve all seen before — the crime, the commentary, the reaction and counter-reaction, the eventual fallout to larger issues.

Storytelling.

Show don’t tell.

Great execution.

What more do you want from an ad?


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