Posts Tagged ‘credibility’

Why

October 8, 2013

A lot of back and forth the Virginia Governor’s race. I’ve ignored most of it because frankly the ads have been eh.

I wanted to write about this ad not because it’s great, but I think it’s missing something important.

What’s it missing?

WHY?

Why is she supporting Cuccinelli?

Why isn’t she supporting MacAulaffe?

And, just because Tichi is a mother and Democrat, why should I listen to her? Frankly, why should I believe her?

Is it enough she’s a mother and democrat? Is it enough that she’s african-american? That’s obviously what Ken Cuccinelli believes.

But it’s not enough to be on message, it’s not enough to make your points, people want to hear a why because we want to understand and connect. There was a study that people were more likely to let someone cut into a line, let’s say to make photocopies, if they only gave a reason (a why), even if the reason was something as obvious as “Can I cut in because I need to make some copies….”

The audience is smarter than you think. Without the why, there’s not credibility. Without the why, the ad is just platitudes. Without the why, it all too easy to ignore the message and the messenger.

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Wow… this worked. Why? (Dawn Dish Detergent Ad)

July 8, 2013

Watching TV this afternoon, I was caught by surprise by this commercial:

Wow, it was so simple it worked. Dish detergent is pretty much a commodity. I buy the one that smells good (or I think will smell good) or is in a neat bottle. But otherwise I usually don’t think much about it.

After watching this commercial I’m buying Dawn.

Commercials make all sorts of claims all the time, we’re used to it. Unless the brand has some internal credibility, we usually slough it off or we need a third party validator. Well this ad uses a pretty powerful 3rd party validator — I mean we’ve all seen those pictures of the cute animals covered in oil and wondered if they could get cleaned up… well they can with Dawn!

Maybe as much as the validation, this Dawn ad speaks to my story of the consumer I want to be. I can buy something as mundane as dish soap, and be helping the environment? That’s me I love the environemnt.

Ok, so maybe the ad is trying a little too hard to tug at the heartstrings you know what? Next time I go to Target to buy my dish soap, I’m reaching for the Dawn.

 

If you don’t have something nice to say

June 7, 2013

If you read this blog, you know how it tickles me when consumer brands go negative.

Microsoft if you recall is also up with an ad against Google, seems like they’ve decided the best strategy is if you can’t say something nice about your product, just go negative against the other guy.  I was less than enthused about their attack on Google. This one play better. It’s what I would call a cute ad, generally enjoyable, but not breathtaking. It’s the kind of ad that’s amusing, but does it actually sell products?

In addition, Apple bashing has become so de rigueur, that the ad feels a little too trite or hackneyed.

Along the same lines is this ad for a Windows 8 phone:

Funny? Yes.

Memorable? Yes.

Effective? Huh.

I think they do a good job trying to tap into the meme that Apple and Samung are slugging it out, but I’m not sure their conclusion is effective. Thought in this ad, like the previous one I don’t know if I can put my finger on exactly why not.

At the end of the day, I guess neither ad creates a hole in my knowledge to fill. They’re amusing, but don’t necessarily get me interested in the product they’re trying to sell. Maybe it’s they lack credibility — Windows and Mircosoft is just a known entity that it’s hard to re-create your image, when it’s crafted in cement. In other words, it’s not just my opinion of Apple (or Samsung or google) you have to change, but it’s my opinion of Microsoft you have to change as well. And maybe not as well, maybe you have to change what I think of Microsoft (and windows) before they can go negative and change my opinion of other brands in the market place.

One of the greatest threats in a multi-party campaign is that the two front runners beat each other up so much, it leaves an opening for the underdog to sneak through. It seems that Microsoft (playing the part of the 800 lb underdog) is trying to do just that, I’m just not sure these ads are the best way to accomplish that goal.

 

Let the message speak.

June 6, 2012

Obama is up with another attack on Mitt Romney.

I think this is a good ad and an even better attack. The ad itself is simply executed, but has some nice graphic touches (like the graph lines rising up in the columns of the Mass Capitol, the way they pull the quote from the editorial and the way they scroll the list of states to #47).  I think the simplicity shows a good touch with the material, letting it speak for itself.

In lieu of some alternative information, the attack seems pretty damning — Romney did a horrible job with the Massachusetts economy.  As the opening and closing quotes show, this goes to the heart of the rationale for voting for Romney — his record.  This strategy is a nice bit of political aikido turning your opponent’s strength and energy against them. That’s the real power of this ad, it succeeds at the strategic level because it calls into question the foundation of Romney’s experience and appeal.

That attack works because they stick to the “facts” using editorials and statistics without commenting too much on those objective descriptors of Romney’s performance. I’ve written before that sometimes an ad needs to just get out of it’s own way, and this is a good example of that.  The message is the thing here, if they had tried to do too much with it, they could risk losing that powerful message in the barrage of the messenger.

Dueling ads, West Virginia Style

April 12, 2011

Guess we got a race for Governor going on in West Virginia. We have a singing candidate, a candidate comparing his dog to being governor, and a guy who goes by “Big,” as in Big John Perdue.

When I write these dueling ad posts, I usually try to take them on one at a time and juxtapose the ads against each other. In this case, that approach didn’t feel right, these ads were crying to be lumped together. For whatever reason, I feel like all three of these ads are just trying way to hard.  It’s like they’re all crying out to be noticed. Look, I get it there’s tremendous pressure these days to stand out from the crowd, but standing out and standing out in the right way are two different things.

In my last post I reviewed an ad that stood out in the right way, in a way that drove a message, and was interesting to watch. Watching the Maloney spot, it starts with this line:

“Reliable… For 13 years…,” yes I’m with you, this is interesting…,”Holly’s trip with the morning newspaper has been as reliable as the morning dawn.” Stunned silence…,cue foghorn,  am I supposed to vote for the dog?  The flat delivery doesn’t help the flat gimmick gain any traction. I guess you may take away the guy is boring and reliable, but at least embrace the boring part, and the reliable part, well they deliver the message, but is it credible? After watching the spot, it’s more credible to say Holly is reliable than her master.

Rick Thompson appears to be singing in his spot. I like the story telling, but not sure the staged scenes are helping.  Again, they feel a little too desperate, like the story wasn’t enough so they had to tell you, instead of showing. The shots at the end transitioning from the actors of him and his grandfather to him and his son that works, but the other shots are a little too on the nose, a little too literal. It would have been better to use snippets of those shots, a closeup of the hand on an old phone, a kid stacking wood. The problem with the shots here is that they don’t convey experience (the emotional experience of what Rick was feeling or the mood they want), they’re like exposition — which always sucks.

Then there’s Big John Perdue.  It’s like if they say the word “Big” enough, we’ll like the spot (with the over done voice over). I assume he’s been called “Big John Perdue” before this spot? (Gosh I certainly hope so.) Again they are trying really hard, but it just doesn’t work. They should have gone all the way with the big John Perdue theme, imagine if they had done something similar to the Jake Zimmerman style here? Slightly tongue in cheek, yes (as it should if you’re gonna call your candidate Big John Perdue in an ad), but I think the hyper reality would have brought out the truth they were trying to convey. Instead, I feel the effort, but I have the same issues as with the other ads, is this credible? Who is this guy? Why should I care.

Sigh.  Who else is running for West Virginia Governor? Because after watching these ads, my vote goes to the dog.

 

Attack and Counter in Kentucky

October 18, 2010

In this race, Conway is down, but not an insurmountable amount, but time is running out.  They can go back and forth or they can try for the big play, swing for the fences, knock out blow, pick your favorite sports analogy here. Well, they sure went for it.

I have to appreciate the fact that they didn’t sugar coat, didn’t back down, didn’t try to hide behind a euphemism, but damned this is an ugly ad, for it’s look as much as it’s content. The ad is so extreme in it’s claim, that it’s hard for me to judge how effective it’ll be.

To me, it feels like it’s trying real hard, almost too hard.  Desperate might not be the right word…, I think the word I’m looking for is pandering. Hey Kentucky, you’re Christians, well Rand Paul he’s not or maybe he’s not, see don’t you hate him now, huh, please, right?  (Eyebrows making exaggerate pleas.)

There’s no formula to these things, but I believe that the harder and more outrageous the claim, the softer you ought to sell it. This ad is an 11 on the claim scale, and a 9 on the political negative cliche scale.

Josh Marshall said, “It registered for me as somewhere between a hokey Tea Party ad and an SNL spoof.” It’s never a good thing when your hard hitting negative looks like a spoof of an ad. In the whole form supporting function, it just doesn’t add to the credibility of the ad.

It’s one thing to make the decision to air the attack, but the manner it was aired makes it feel clumsy and desperate, a more refined ad, might have overcome that problem.

Paul countered with this ad stating, “He has Christ in his heart,” and that Conway is “[bearing] false witness” against him.

The response to Conway’s attack makes me wonder if Paul didn’t feel vulnerable to it. Seems like overkill to say you both have “Christ in your heart” and he’s bearing false witness again you, but I’m from Kentucky, and I’m not the one who’s had my christianity questioned.  Obviously that last line is a not too subtle attempt to invoke biblical language.  Again feels like pandering to me, “See Kentucky, I can say things like bear witness and smite, so I must be Christian….” Ok he doesn’t say “smite” but maybe he should have.

The response is pretty cliche (other than false witness which you don’t hear very often these days), dark grayed out shots of Conway, his lips flapping hard edged newpaper headlines to accentuate their point (though the script ads the line “gutter politics at its worse,” which isn’t a quote as far as I can tell).  This ad isn’t as over the top as the original ad, but if Boris were here he might say, “Rand,… check yourself…..”

So who wins this round? Both ads are pretty lame, so as far as form goes, it’s a draw.  The Conway ad feels a little cheaper, the Paul ad cleaner and slicker, but neither one distinguishes themselves.

So if it comes down to function, I’ll give the win to Conway on the technical point that they raised the issue, and it seems that’s what folks are talking about with two weeks left in the campaign.  Maybe it backfires, maybe it doesn’t work, but it’s not what Paul wants to be talking about that’s for sure.

Political Aikido

April 26, 2010

The wikipedia says this about Aikido: “Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on.”

This new ad from Alexi Giannoulias is a pretty good example of political Aikido — framing the failure of the “family business” (the federal takeover of the family bank he used to run) as another business lost to this bad economy is pretty smart in my opinion.  For whatever reason, I was thinking about this campaign over the weekend and the need to talk about the elephant in the room.  I think this spot does a pretty good job of just that.  I like that he’s being interviewed (or appears to be talking to an interviewer) and not reading of a teleprompter.  He seems sincere and believable.

It comes a little short of where I would go and really confronting the issue, but I think it’s about as good as you could do given the circumstances.  As Ben Smith of Politico says, “If Alexi Giannoulias pulls this one off, it’ll be one for the annals of political history…”

The negative attack in the middle of the ad is interesting, pretty standard stuff, but in essence he’s tying Kirk to the failure of his “family business” and businesses like it around the state.  Of course, if you read the cite from the unemployment quote it’s from 2008. I think it’s pretty misleading because they’re obviously trying to make it sound like Kirk made that statement recently when in fact he made the statement (whatever he actually said) about three months before the financial meltdown.  That kind of inaccuracy always worries me because if it becomes the story around the ad, then it’s much easier for the other side to throw out the entire attack, and it casts doubts about your campaign’s credibility.

I’m interested to see if they can shift the story in the coming days or not, but you got to give it a try, and at the very least they’ve put the ball in Kirk’s court to react to.


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