Posts Tagged ‘flat’

Can you have too much message?

July 16, 2013

This ad just leaves me… I don’t know, kinda flat. The message is right, and it seems like it’s on-message, but I wonder if it’s on-emotion?

I know it looks like an interview, but it sounds like talking points. Is it a case of too much message? Or just the wrong emotional delivery? The story doesn’t feel personal.  

BTW, the McAuliffe campaign is up with this minute long ad:

It’s better, though I’m a little confused by the details. Still I think it works better than the social security ad, especially at the end. I think it’s a smart play to make Cuchinelli appear untrustworthy rather than going after him for being extreme or otherwise too partisan. 

 

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2+2=3?

April 16, 2013

Let’s take a trip to LA, where they’re having a big Mayor’s race.

This ad is really pretty, well executed ad, but it leaves me feeling flat. Maybe’s it’s Wendy Gruel’s delivery, maybe it’s just that it feels like it’s trying too hard, but in any case it doesn’t grab me they it should given the elements. Like somehow the ad doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts.

It’s on the screen

February 29, 2012

You know I once sat next to Tommy Thompson at a dinner, didn’t know who he was till he introduced himself, for the life of me I don’t remember his lips being so red.  In fact, I can’t remember an ad I’ve watched where a candidates lips have stood out so much. Not sure if his lips really are that red or it’s some kind of make-up malfunction — sorry digression.

What really struck me about this ad was how flat it was. There was no energy to the spot. Even the shots of him listening to people, he looks cranky.

Whether or not these Thompson felt comfortable with these words or he was really happy to be listening to the people in the spot, I can’t answer those question. Boris used to say, “Guys, your work is on the screen,” when a director would try to explain why a shot wasn’t working or an actor’s performance was off. What he meant was an audience doesn’t know or shouldn’t care  about all the time and trouble that went into a shoot, they don’t care about the obstacles overcome or the problems that plagued you, all they can judge you by is what’s on the screen.

By that standard, I question the decision to run this ad.  I don’t care what the plan is, if it’s not working, you have to be able to adjust.  I don’t see how putting Thompson to camera, looking grumpy and sounding uncomfortable helps sell his campaign message or convey the the emotion he wants voters to feel. Honestly, I was so distracted by what was going on, that I didn’t even hear the words until the third of fourth time I watched the ad. And, when I did hear them, they didn’t resonate at all, there was no conviction behind them, so why should I believe them at all.  The ad felt very paint by numbers, like they were all just going through the motions, I don’t blame Tommy Thompson for that, I blame his consultants.

 

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.

What’s wrong with this spot?

July 20, 2011

Dick Lugar is up with his new ad, trying to reach out to a party base that may have passed him by.

If they had come to me first and asked me what I thought, here’s how the conversation might have played out:

Me: “I like the last line, ‘a veteran fighting along side our new recruits, will help them….’ Do we need the ‘I’ll hope you agree before it?”

Them: “Well, [insert person’s name here, senator, staff, pollster, wife, donor] insisted that it be in there, makes him seem like a regular guy, you know?:

Me: “Ok, well it sounds kinda weak, when we want him to sound strong. Isn’t that the point of the spot? That’s he’s taken on this problems before, that’s he been toughened by age and experience? Now, why no music? It’s an interesting choice.”

Them: “Yeah, well we didn’t want to make it seem like a political commercial.”

Me: “Oh, you have a senator speaking directly to camera, but you didn’t want it to feel like a political commercial? Right now it feels really flat, music could help give an emotional frame to the spot.”

Them: “We didn’t want to seem like were trying too hard or being manipulative?”

Me: “Ok, well, to be honest the spot feels a little desperate right now, like Lugar is begging for support, it feels a little pandery [is that a word, pandering?]. And, well, what the word, the Senator, well, he comes off as kinda old looking. That’s what struck me the first time he’s on screen.”

Them: “Really? We had a special make-up artist who works with aging rock stars.” [That’s a true story, I used a make-up woman who’s specialty was aging rock stars, she used a spray gun to paint on the make up of an aging man running for office.]

Me: “Well he looks and sounds old, and he’s a little weirdly happy, when he should be more intense or something, again music would help….”

Them (looking increasingly like they want to leave): “Yeah. What else?”

Me: “What’s up with the Reagan shots.”

Them: “Conservatives love Reagan, Lugar worked with Reagan, therefore conservatives love Lugar. Get it?”

Me: “Yeah, well, the shots look dated, and make you realize that Lugar has been in office a long time. Who told him to smile the whole time? <Sigh>”

Them: “So basically, you think it’s emotionally flat, he smiles too much, looks old, and seems like he’s pandering?”

Me: “Exactly, and I just don’t buy it, feels like he’s trying to be something he’s not comfortable with.”

Them: “And that…”

Me: “Is that new, did I not say that before?”

Them: “No…”

Me: “Oh, ok, yeah it feels inauthentic too. Alright well, good first cut, let’s get back into the edit room and fix it.”

Well, it would have went something like that.

Paint by Numbers

January 19, 2011

I remember an interview way back before Beverly Hills Cop 2 came out. Eddie Murphy was promoting his new movie, and he said something like, “People loved the first movie, so we took everything they liked in the first movie, and made it bigger in the second one.” Now, I was pretty young, but I remember thinking at the time that seems to miss the point. You can’t just paint by numbers, we need a bigger explosion here, we need this & that, and expect a movie to be better.

I feel the same way about this ad. In theory it has the right approach, it’s trying to appeal to emotion with shots of kids and families, trying to engage our outrage, but the whole spot is just… I don’t know, flat. It’s soulless.

It’s not that script is so bad or the images stink, it’s just doesn’t add up to a good spot or even mediocre spot. Now, the voice over doesn’t help at all, the narrator sounds like she’s on ambient. The spot has no energy or hook, there’s nothing memorable about it.

That leads me to another point, to call the bill Affordable Health Care Act instead of health care reform is an interesting choice. On one hand I applaud the effort to embrace a new frame, Health Care Reform has been branded Obama Care with all it’s death panels and job killing effects. On the other hand, even though I know they’re talking about Health Care Reform, I find the ad confusing, I don’t really know what they’re talking about. Maybe I don’t connect it in my mind to my support of Health Care Reform, it almost feels like a whole new issue.

This ad is one of those rare birds that’s actually worse than the sum of it’s parts. Like Eddie Murphy learned, it’s not enough to have bigger explosions and expect your movie to be better, you actually need something authentic and fresh to engage an audience.


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