Posts Tagged ‘different’

Getting back into the game

September 25, 2012

Been a while since postings, part of that is I’ve been busy, but also I find it difficult to find something to post about that I’m really interested in.  Most of the ads I’ve seen are pretty standard fair. I like un-standard, that’s what I want to write about… ah well.

In the interests of posting, some quick thoughts today.

I always find the word “liberal” as a throwback to the 90’s when Republicans were using it like a four letter word. I like the graphics of this spot, they’re neat in a Matrix kinda way, though not sure if they’re adding to the message or just neat.  Also, not sure I’ve ever heard a more cranky/crotchety disclaimer.

Next up, a new Tester ad. I can’t tell if I like this ad or not. On one hand it’s a clever concept, and they stick with it.  On the other, the talking animals are a little… creepy. The first time I watched the spot, I was so caught up in animals talking, I didn’t even listen to what they were saying. Also, what format are they shooting on? For a professional ad for a big senate race, the video looks really cheap and crappy I noticed this last time, I reviewed a Tester ad). Still I give them points for trying something different.

Does interesting = Good?

June 15, 2012

I was just lamenting to a friend that it’s sometimes hard for me to blog because I feel like I’m saying the same things again, and again, and again. That’s because for the most part you see the same ads, again and again, and again. In my more down moments, I wonder if I have anything to add to what I’ve already said, and worry that it’s not enough to beat the drum, if you’re beating out the same rhythm (rhythm is a ridiculously hard word to spell by the way, I never get it right).

I cam across this ad in the Daily Kos’ election roundup, a pretty useful daily guide to election goings on, and a great way to see new ads. They have a pretty good sense of the subtext of ads, and said about this one:

“This ad from 25-year-old Republican Weston Wamp (notable only because his father, Zach Wamp, held this seat until a cycle ago) is just deeply… weird. I can’t summarize it at all—it’s a series of different images (John Wayne! moonshot! Bill Gates!) accompanied by a strange meditation on the meaning of freedom. I will say, though, that I was sure Wamp had hired some ridiculously deep-voiced announcer to narrate the ad. Instead, it turns out that the ridiculous deep voice is Wamp’s own. (He doesn’t sound that way when he’s not trying.) Overcompensating much?…:

It’s a little weird, and not really your standard political ad, and yet, there’s something about it I like. It puts a premium on emotion and theme over pure message and facts. I just finished reading Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failures, by Tim Harford. Harford talks about the need to experiment away from the harsh glare of success and failure, in fact he says explicitly that being able to experience in places where you can fail is critical to future successes. He calls these outposts Galapagos Islands — places outside the scrutiny of everyday business or the mainstream focus of action.

I thought a lot about the idea of Galapagos Islands in politics — the stakes are so high (win or go home) and so much money is spent, there’s not much room to experiment because the costs of failure are higher than almost any other industry save ones where life and death are actually on the line (Nuclear plants, airline pilots and the like). Shit, Coke can role out a whole new formula, turn on it’s heels and call it a mistake with little or no fallout, other than a cautionary tale. A politician can’t even change their opinion on an issue opening themselves up to a negative attack.

I’m getting a little off topic here, but the point is it’s hard to try out new things especially in political campaigns. Every candidate wants different, or so they say.  The various occasions they’re presented with different, the reaction is almost always the same, wow, that’s so different, can’t we do something you know more… (I wrote a post about this very fact some time back).

Back to this spot, it’s different, and sometimes that seems weird.  What I don’t know is if it’s authentic? Is the spot just spitting on the table (if I stood up and spit on the table in a meeting, you’d certainly remember it, but would it be the message I want to convey)? Look at those Pawlenty for President spots if you want to see spitting on the table in action. I don’t know if this spot fits people’s image of Wamp, is he seen as a daddy’s boy, and this spot seems strangely like he’s overcompensating (as Nir implies)? Why did they make his voice sound… so oddly deep? My guess after listening to him speak normally is that they put some kind of effect on it in post.  What will people think of that? Is he trying too hard (like Pawlenty) to be something he’s not?

I don’t know the answers to those questions.  But here’s the thing I do know, I actually find the spot kind of interesting, and think in this case the usually astute David Nir misses the mark.  There is something bigger going on here.  “We went to the moon and played Sinatra ’cause no one told us not to…” that line is odd, but also strangely compelling and memorable. Which is what I’d say about the spot.  I’m not willing to say it’s good, but it is interesting, and in a world filled with safe and normal, that’s a step in the right direction. Is it a failure? Well, if it is, then it’s a failure that moves us closer to a success, and in my book that’s something to be admired.

This is Different

June 16, 2010

I’m not sure how I feel about this one.

Here’s what I like about it: it’s different, it’s impressionistic rather than linear or literal, and it only tries to make one or two impressions despite all the images.  I also like that they don’t spend time trying to explain what we’re seeing though a couple of the shots at the end had me perplexed as to their meaning.

Maybe more importantly the spot seems to capture the little I know about Alan Grayson — he’s bold and out spoken, and this spot is certainly bold.  It feels true to him.

Why am I conflicted? I don’t know. I almost didn’t write this post because I don’t like writing I don’t know, it’s not satisfying for me, and I’m sure it’s pretty boring to read. Just something rubs me the wrong way.

It’s just a feeling, that the spot is trying to hard or something.  Maybe that’s it, I can feel creators presence, but not in a guiding Errol Morris kind of way, but in an overdone Michael Bay way.    Maybe that’s something voters won’t notice, maybe it only bothers me.  Maybe it’s what works for the spot because it fits Grayson, but it makes me not want to like the spot.

Something different…

June 24, 2009

You never hear a client say they want “the same” or “the familiar”. It’s always, “I want something different,” “Can we get something more… creative,” “I don’t want the usual political spots.” If everyone one is pushing for “different,” “creative,” “not the usual spot,” then why do we get so many spots that look alike?

Because different is hard. It’s so damned different. We like the familiar, it’s hard-wired into our brains. Before people were people, different was bad, different got you killed. That’s why today, different gets our attention.

Back in 2000, I saw these videos by Spike Jonze. He was supposed to make a campaign video for Al Gore for the convention.  In the end, the powers that be ended up making the same old video we’ve seen 1000 times before, and the Spike Jonze one was never seen (or at least not promoted). Take a look, tell me in the comments what you think. Personally, I think it’s brilliant — I see Gore as a person — goofy, yes, but with a family that loves him and that he loves intensely. It’s real and honest, too; funny, people thought he was the liar… if we could only show him as authentic… oh.

Look, the video quality sucks, the shots aren’t perfect, but it doesn’t matter — the story, the honesty, the emotion is there so we (or I) go with it and don’t care about those other things. Is it different?  Hell yes.

The video is in two parts. Take a look, would you have shown it at your convention? I would have.

Look, you can go too far with different, sure — mostly it’s because you’re trying so hard to be different, you’re not trying hard enough to be good. But there is a happy middle ground where different gets our attention and shows us something new, we just have to get used it. I guess the moral of the story is you have to be ready for different if you want it.


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