Posts Tagged ‘credible’

Dueling Ads Hawaii

February 2, 2012

Two strange ads up in the Hawaii Democratic Primary…

So Ed Case has regular folks saying they’re going to vote for him then thanks voters for thinking about their choice.  I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something off about the ad. It’s shot in a documentary style (shaky camera moves that hint at capturing real life), but the people in it feel somewhat staged. Were they given lines to read or were the lines authentic? I can’t tell, I wonder if voters will be able to tell.  A third party validator is only as believable as they’re credible.  I don’t find these people particularly credible, but maybe that’s me.

A couple other choices I question: 1. The lack of music leaves the spot feeling rather flat, there’s no emotion too it, and that comes off in the delivery of the lines. 2. If these are real people, why not identify them?  Identifying people who are speaking helps because it makes them seem more credible, they’re real people, it’s not just some mechanic in an ad, but John Doe who happens to be a mechanic.

One element of the ad I do like is the frame of a choice. Ed Case, by acknowledging people have a choice (maybe a hard one for them) comes off as empathetic and understanding — maybe he gets it.

Mazie Hirono’s ad on the other hand decides to turn back the clock and run like it’s 2008 or 2006 or any other even numbered year George W Bush was president. Really are we still running against Bush policies?  I know it’s a Democratic primary, but somehow this ad seems out of step or at least out of date. I’m sure there must have been some polling on this (these) issue, but it just comes off as odd to me.  (And, yes, I get she’s trying to frame her Democratic credentials against the more conservative Ed Case, but it’s still feels like a throwback.) Do Democrats have to run against Bush to prove their liberal? When does that stop?

Also what’s with the two “regular” people saying her name, what’s the deal with that? They know her name? I kept waiting for them to come back and say something or anything more, it just seemed like a dangled promise that there was something else there.

So who wins this round? I’m not sure. Both ads strike me as slightly weird. Hirono’s ad has higher production values and music, but it’s about as cliche as it gets stylistically, there’s nothing interesting about it. Ed Case has a odd mockmentary flavor and is flat, but I think probably works slightly better despite it’s lack of credibility.

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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.

 

It’s the story stupid…

February 7, 2011

Super bowl ads. Everyone’s talking about ’em. On twitter, I linked to this article, “Super Bowl TV Spots (Versus All The Rest of the Year).” The gist was basically, yeah Super Bowl ads have a larger audience, but the quality of our work shouldn’t depend on the audience that’s going to see it. It’s summed up with, “Just seems to me that a TV spot is a TV spot. TV, radio, any media buy is a public appearance for which we ought to put on our Sunday best, no matter how large our congregation is.”

Super Bowl ads are known for their spectacle, for their over the top quality, but the ads that I always seem to like are the same ones I like the rest of the year, it’s the ones that tell a story and connect with me emotionally.  Seriously which ads to do you remember over the years?

Ad Age just did an all-time Super Bowl ad poll, it came down to Apple’s 1984 spot and Coke’s Mean Joe Greene ad, according the reader’s poll Mean Joe Greene crushed Apple’s ad.

(Here’s a link to all the ads polled: My favorites NFL “Crazy” & Reebok “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker,” Monster, “When I grow up,” and EDS “Herding Cats”– though it’s a little too much of a gimmick, I find it amusing).

I’ve never understood the appeal of the 1984 ad, though of the spectacle ads it does have a compelling narrative and emotional element (the drive to break free from Big Brother). But the Mean Joe ad, come on? Just watching it now, I was almost in tears. “Hey kid, catch…”

That brings us to this year’s ads which has the usual blend of stupid beer ads that aren’t funny the other 364 days of the year, the offensive — Groupon, the unremarkable…, can’t remember any of those, and the spectacle — Coke & Audi, which were all right, but will probably fall into the unremarkable category before too long.

So which ads did I think were the best. To me one stood out:

I don’t know if this ad was targeted to parent’s but it sure felt real to me. Another company might have gone for over the top, might have tried to make it funnier by making it more absurd, and they would have lost the reality of the moment. Absurd is fine if it’s real, but when it becomes surreal, it needs some element to ground it back to reality.  This ad feels so true to life to me, and it’s so well executed, down to the music, the way the child rushes past his dad at the end, and the surprised reaction at the end.

Does an ad like this sell cars? I would say yes. It’s clever and honest, and somehow sympathetic, and I believe it makes VW seem clever, honest and sympathetic. They could have shown the car racing around corners, but that wouldn’t hook me the way this ad does. That’s the power of emotion.

Along those lines the other ad that caught my attention was the Eminem Chrysler ad. A paean to Detroit (and America frankly), I think it’s a powerful ad, that appeals to that underdog spirit in all of us. I love the script, again eschewing talking about the car, the car is a symbol for something more powerful, and if you want to connect with that story, if you want that story to become your story, buying the car is a way of broadcasting that to the world.  I love the end tag, “Imported from Detroit,” simply brilliant.

Here’s my problem with it, do you need Eminem in it? Why not have him narrate the entire spot? The spot is great for 3/4 then it falls apart at the end. Why does he get out of the car? What’s the deal with choir?  It’s one of those commercials that had me, then loses me at the end. Don’t get me wrong it’s better than 90% of the car commercials out there because of the script and the music, but it ends up falling flat at the end.  Too bad.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the negative ads of the night…. What, wait you missed them?

How about this one:

The ad is obvious swipe at Apple from the 1984 reference to the white ear buds. I find the interesting, but not credible. The ad is trying to turn Apple from the rebel fighting Big Brother into Big Brother. But ultimately I’m not sure that I believe the argument coming from Motorola. I’m not sure what people think of Motorola, but rebel isn’t really one of the first ten themes that come to my mind.  So ultimately while I like the message aikido going on here, I’m not sure it can be successful without some other validation.

The other spot that I recall going negative was this one:

A lot of spectacle, pretty funny and well executed, but ultimately it felt like they were too clever. Audi is trying to be luxury for those who don’t want luxury or something like that. That might be the right position for them, and this ad communicates it well, but there’s not emotional component to it other than the basic message. Compare this ad to the Chrysler ad or the VW ad, which one moves you more?

Still, it’s good to see brands going after each other at the Super Bowl, gets me excited for 2012.

Super Bowl ads remind me of big Hollywood blockbusters, full of sound and fury but ultimately as forgettable as Transformers or X-Men. The best blockbusters, like the best ads are the ones that focus the sound and fury in service of an emotion and a message. The best way to do that is to tell a story. The best ad this year was probably the least expensive to shoot, the same thing was true of my favorite ad from last year.  You can be simple and powerful if you focus on story and emotion instead of spectacle and being clever.

What’s wrong with politics…

May 17, 2010

The best negative ads need to connect viscerally with viewers.  They need to engage with them, this ad just doesn’t feel credible.  It seems political and somehow unfair, and I ultimately think it fails.  It’s ads like these that give political ads a bad name.  Potentially, an ad like this one could backfire on Poizner if voters feel like he’s just slinging mud.


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