Posts Tagged ‘emotional intelligence’

Super Bowl Ads… The Negative

February 7, 2012

Yesterday, I went through ads I like from the Super Bowl, today, I wanted to look at some ads I thought flopped as well a continuing trend, consumer brands going negative (see what I did there, there’s negative like bad, and negative like attack)….

I don’t get it. Met Life cartoon characters, what? Other than getting some attention, there was no connection between the form and the function. What the point? This was weak creative and probably pretty expensive to get the rights to Hanna-Barbara’s characters, so why? Because they could? To try and link to some nostalgia of my generation? Again, if you’re going to do it, then do it, why not show the scooby gang facing retirement, or Richie Rich or Grape Ape, but this was just kinda weak.

(As an aside, there’s a bunch of ads that I thought really sucked beyond my need to discuss, like the  sexist”Teleflora” ad where the woman basically says if you buy your girl something for Valentine’s day, you’ll get some action…. alright.)

Here’s an ad that ran only in Michigan, that stirred up some controversy:

The ad was created by Republican ad guru Fred Davis. I’ve appreciated Davis’ flare and talent here in the past, as well as his desire to make ads stand out, and not be ordinary. But again, I feel he missed the mark here.

I just read this great article in Slate on the demise of Crispin, Porter, Bogusky (a must read). The quote this line from the Crispin employee handbook “that defines advertising as ‘anything that makes our clients famous.'” I think Davis has a similar take on his ads (and he might agree with the Bogusky quote later in the article, “My relationship with advertising was that I was not that fond of it,” he told Canada’s Globe and Mail earlier this year. “So mostly the way I approached it was to kind of mess with the form. “). Any ad that gets his client attention is a good ad, and his ads are very good about getting attention.

Here’s the thing, attention is not the same as being on-message and being on-message is not the same as being on-emotion. This ad gets Pete Hoesktra attention, it’ll get a news cycle or more of talk, but does it move Hoeskstra’s message forward, does it connect with voters any more than the creepy King character connected with consumers?  It sometimes appears that Davis (like Bogusky) holds his medium in contempt, so he toys with it, plays with the viewer, and tries to get his client as much attention as possible — because any attention is good attention… right?

Beyond the offensive chinese stereotype, this ad feels emotionally tone deaf, the “Debbie Spend It Now” line feels forced, there might be a good message here about spending and China holding our debt, but this one is such a mess that it faces the prospect of missing the beat because of all the noise.

Beyond that, here’s are a couple consumer brand on consumer brand crime:

The Chevy ad caused quite a stir as Ford tried to get NBC to not run the ad. I appreciated more than loved this ad. Chevy’s commitment to it’s concept, from the music to the Twinkies,  was well thought out, and they didn’t break the reality they had created except for the line that seemed like it came right out of the Chevy Brochure, “Ford’s not the most durable… blah, blah, blah.” It would have been enough to say Dave didn’t make it, he drove a Ford, and leave it at that, it makes the point.  Still I thought it was clever, and loved the subtly of the jab in an ad filled with excess (in a good way).

The Samsung ad wasn’t the first of it’s kind (it’s run similar ads before), and I think they’re well done. They seem to know their target well — some one hip and cool, too hip and cool to be an Apple Lemming (notice the re-framing of Apple fandom from “think different” to one of the crowd of mindless followers), but someone who wants the latest tech which Samsung happens to offer. Not sure about the “stylus” — which felt like an odd feature (poll driven maybe) to highlight, if you want a stylus, I can did up my old Palm Treo out of my kids toys, still this ad was pretty good, though the big party at the end felt like an unneeded add on, it was something out of a beer commercial.

Still it the ad is nice framing by Samsung, they aren’t trying to beat Apple per se, but position themselves as the alternative to Apple. There’s an aikido like strategy at work here that I appreciate.

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Negative Ad Trifecta

September 17, 2010

There’s a chapter in the fabulous parenting book, “Nurture Shock,” that talks about bullying. Contrary to the stereotype, most bullies are not the anti-social loners of Columbine myth (if you’re interested, you should read the gripping and thoughtful account, “Columbine”), but rather they’re usually at those at the top of the social food chain. Why? The reason is pretty simple actually, if you’re socially intelligent enough to climb to the top of the social ladder, you’re probably able to read people enough to know there weak points. In other words, bullies tend to be high in emotional intelligence, social intelligence, whatever you want to call it.

Ok, now you’re wondering what this has to do with political ad making?  I think good negative ads are a lot like those real bullies at the top of the social food chain. Anyone can make a negative ad.  Negative ads are both hard and easy: Easy because there’s almost no bigger cliche in politics than the negative ad — dark grainy picture, somber music, the picture of your opponent next to some CG like, “Stood with X [pick the symbol of the other side, over the years, it’s been Gingrich, Clinton, Bush, Kerry, these days it’s Obama & Pelosi] to do Y [pass health care, give a big tax break to the wealthy, run up deficits, cut social security…].”

Negative ads are hard though, hard to get right, hard to find the right balance, between information (which is really a MacGuffin) and emotion, between framing your opponent in the way that you want and letting the viewer get to that place on their own (so they feel like it was their own idea).  Between making the viewer not like your opponent, but not hate you too much. So many fine lines are there.  It’s easy to make a hammer, though often what’s needed is a scalpel.

A lot like the bullies of “Nurtureshock,” its not about punches and physical attack, but more about emotional and intellectual manipulation. You need to have a feel for it, otherwise you’re apt to make an ad like this one:

This ad feels like amateur hour.  Buck feels stiff and is obviously reading (uncomfortably) off a prompter. Compare this ad with the one from the other day with the horse racing.  Which one would you rather watch? Which one makes it’s point?  Heck, even the North Carolina rocking chair ad shows a certain negative IQ so to speak, here’s another ad that just feels a negative tone deaf to me:

Or this one from Jack Conway against Rand Paul.

I like how he uses Paul’s quote, that’s a nice way to validate your statement with the view, but at the end of the day, I just don’t believe it, in spite of the quote.

Knowing how far to push and when to draw the line in an attack is as important as knowing which attack to make.  This ad seems to go over both lines.


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