Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

All Fred Davis for Today

September 22, 2010

I tweeted this earlier today, but it’s worth repeating anyone interested in political advertising should read this article about GOP ad “guru” Fred Davis. In some ways Fred Davis embodies exactly the kind of creative, boundary pushing, emotional story telling ads that I advocate for on this blog. In other ways, I think his ads can fall into the gimmick category — using outrageous for the sake of getting attention, even if that attention is for the outrageousness of the ad rather than the message it is disseminating. In other words, his ads get more attention than they are effective (I’m thinking specifically of his Paris Hilton ad against Obama).

I also find him personally annoying, but that could be just the way he’s presented in the press (or the persona/story he presents to the press as the “creative” genius, maybe in person he’s very nice and interesting).  I do very much appreciate the way he’s unapologetic about his ideas and unafraid to make bold choices creatively (even if he should follow Boris’ advice to “check himself”). We need more people like that in political ad making.

My only other comment is how well he could perform on smaller budgets?  It’s great to make a provocative $40k viral video, but a lot of campaigns don’t have that kind of cash. Creativity isn’t dependent on money, but money sure helps when it comes to execution.

In honor of Fred Davis, here’s a couple of recent examples of his work:

A while back I looked at parodies of the “Daisy Ad,” and in general I found the parodies not compelling. This ad is a parody of the classic Reagan ad, “Morning in America”:

This ad measure up very well with the original. Striking the same tone to opposite effect. It uses the original as an anchor to twist the message, are you better off now than four years ago. In the original the answer was yes, in this ad the answer is a resounding no.

This ad for Carly Fiorina I was less impressed with:

Visually I found it uninspired, from a message point of view, I found it bewildering. You’re going to come after Boxer for being a millionaire while Californians are suffering? Um, that’s exactly what Boxer is attacking Fiorina for doing while she was at HP.  Now, I’m all for undercutting the opponent’s argument, political aikido and all, but I just don’t find Fiorina’s claim credible.  Or put another way, I find the attack on her time as CEO of HP more credible, while this attack on Boxer leaves me with a shrug.  Though I should say, I really do like the music…, I wonder how much it cost?

Part of the art of political advertising is knowing when to go for a homerun and when a single is all you need.

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Iran Opposition Commercial (“If you see something you like, steal it.”)

June 22, 2009

A friend sent me this (thanks, Nick). Having worked on foreign elections, I found it interesting for its sophistication — both in message and style. For a place that stands with the “axis of evil”, those are some progressive issues being tossed about. There’s something that feels very western about the ad. The music, for instance, sounds like something from an Obama video.

The video style, as far as I know, was first used in this Bob Dylan video. I think I first saw it when I was kid in this Inxs video — which I thought was wicked cool (and didn’t realize it was a homage). You can see a list of other imitations here.

Has it been done before? I guess, but its done well here, and I think it works. This spot is emotional. The shots are really vivid, and it’s hard to shoot wide like that. Great choice of backgrounds.

A teacher of mine at film school (not Boris this time) told us, “If you see something you like in a movie or commercial, steal it.” The point wasn’t to just copy something, but by taking an element from something else, you can make it your own.

I heard an interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh on one of my favorite podcasts, Filmspotting. Soderbergh was saying there are two kinds of creativity — there’s making things up from scratch, being original, and then there’s taking something you’ve seen or heard, and putting a new spin on it. Both are equally valid. (He put himself in that second group.)

This is a look I’m putting into my itunes library to remember to use someday. If it’s ok for Steven Soderbergh to do it, I can, too.


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