Posts Tagged ‘health care’

It’s hard to be funny… let’s be angry instead.

July 18, 2013

You know this video (and let’s be clear it’s 45 seconds long so it’s not running on TV) has the potential to be really good. But I think it misses the mark. Why? Because I think it’s way off-emotion.

The ObamaCarenado is trendy for sure, but instead of campy parody they go way over the top with fear and anger. Now, I will say I really liked the end, but in general, this video just feels really angry to me, whatever humor it may have is lost in that anger. Now that may play well to the base, but I don’t think it works so well with independent voters.

Good humor and good parody are hard. The video takes the easy way out, trying for neither and I think it accomplishes less because of it. Had they really bought into the Sharknado what could they have accomplished? Instead it just a macguffin to be angry. I guess that’s one way to go, but the creators of Sharknado have nothing to worry about.

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.

True to yourself

September 30, 2010

With politicians (Democrats) running away from Health Care Reform like it was the plague, Russ Feingold embraces the best (most popular) elements of the health care plan, and attacks his opponent admonishing him “hands off my health care.”

While I think the ad is not a particularly good execution — I never like scripting real people, it can be hard for them to pull off the lines, and I’m not sure they do here.  I think it’s the right play.  Getting back to my last post, you have to be true to your values and who you are.  Feingold is doing that, and pushing back on his opponent at the same time, if he’s got any shot of winning this race, that’s the best strategy.

Using real people is smart because it’s not just politicians who appreciate health care reform.  Scripting the people takes some of that power away from the message, they’re a little stiff and they’re  indicating (as my mom used to say), but it works well enough I suppose, and it’s a bold play.

It’s cute

January 6, 2010

I remember in college, women hated to be called cute.  Cute is alright, cute  is non-threatening, cute is mildly interesting, but it’s not as good as hot or beautiful or gorgeous.

Here’s a pretty cute ad summarizing the benefits of the recent health care bill. It’s  better than a straight forward list, but not really as compelling as it could be.

The message is the same in this ad, but it can’t quite even meet the cute bar.  It’s kinda confusing, the entire time I kept wondering why we were watching a marathon.  I like when images counterpoint the words or graphics, but this was just distracting.  It’s a really long thirty seconds to get to the payoff of the finish-line message. Never a good sign when you have to explain the metaphor to folks.

Best Health Care Ad EVER!

November 15, 2009

At film school they always tried to teach us “show, don’t tell.”

Case and point: This ad.  It does a lovely job of storytelling, using details, the procedure of moving, and mystery — what’s the punchline of the ad going to be, where’s this going.

They don’t try to cram a minute’s worth of message at you, instead they give you 45 seconds of a story, a compelling one at that, then five seconds of message (of course, you could argue the story is part of the message, which is true, but misses the point somewhat).

If I had to quibble it would be with the fact that the message is so tepid after such a big build up.  Yes, “No one should lose everything because the are denied health coverage,” is great, but the second card, “Tell your senators to support consensus health care reform,” is so vague as to be meaningless.  I feel like they had me in the palm of their hand, but I’m not clear what they want from me.  Maybe that’s more than a quibble.  I also might have put those cards up over a blurred scene of the couple interacting in the background.

Still, this ad is the best one I’ve seen on health care, and I think well after the debate is over and a bill is passed (or not), I’ll probably remember it.  It’s smart and emotional without being melodramatic, and it delivers it’s message about losing everything very elegantly, without ever tipping it’s hand too overtly (this is a health care ad, watch now, listen now).


The Message and the messenger

November 10, 2009

I try to keep my politics out of how I view an ad, and while I know that’s not really possible (our unconscious brains are constantly providing commentary on the world in the form of “feelings” that bubble up into consciousness), I at least try not to judge an ad on where its message falls on the political spectrum.

With this ad though it’s really tough.  Not sure why, but I hate this ad.  It’s an obvious parody of the Apple Mac/PC ads, but it’s a really bad parody.  It has none of the wit or whimsy that makes those ads so clever and cutting. In the original ads, the PC guy is likable, here m the Government run health care plan guy is especially annoying, and even the girl is annoying.  I don’t really find either of them likable at all. The acting is pretty weak too.

(Here’s a tip about actors, always find people who can act first, then worry about if they “look” the part.  I’ve seem more bad casting because someone who can’t act is given a part because they look like

But I worry, is it the message of the ad that rubs me the wrong way, or the messenger, the ad itself?  Am I just coming up with a rationale to make sense of my feeling of hate?

I don’t know (and probably can’t know without years of therapy), but bad execution really rubs me the wrong way, and this ad feels like they ripped off the form without really having an understanding of how it worked.  It has the rhythm of the original, the look (though it’s a pretty weak green screen floor), but it’s a little like listening to a schizophrenic talk, he uses real words, but put together they’re gibberish.

And on top of that it ends so abruptly.

Politico piece on Health Care Ads

November 2, 2009

Interesting article today in Politico talking about health care ads.

I’ll try to write more when I get more time, but it’s interesting, and echoes some of the things I’ve talked about here.

Heather Graham & Health Care.

October 23, 2009

I was on a plane today, and I watched the movie “The Hangover.” It was pretty good, amusing enough to keep me distracted (and who doesn’t like a good tiger in a car routine).  It’s a good cast, and I was impressed with Heather Graham in a bit part.  It reminded me what I liked about her so many years ago in the brilliant “Boogie Nights.” (Thinking of that movie, PT Anderson must be a great director, Graham, Burt Reynolds, Mark Wallberg & Julianne Moore all gave the best performances of their careers.)

I don’t know if Graham is a good actress, but she has a strong quality: She’s innocent and sexy, charming and quirky.

When I landed I saw this new Move ad staring… Heather Graham.  Ha sweet coincidence.

Unlike the American’s United for Healthcare which compared the health care industry with baseball, and ultimately didn’t make any sense, this ad actually makes the point quite well.  It doesn’t need to mention the legal restrictions to competition either.

Using Heather Graham is a bit of a MacGuffin in that it ultimately isn’t important who represents the public option, but it sure ads attention.

My only gripe with the ad would be the bibs on the front of each of the actors to represent who they’re supposed to be.  It works, but it’s not the most elegant solution, also it’s not shot as well as it could have been.  The closeup of the dropped burger is nice, but I wanted more.

Still, that’s an artistic quibble. As a message delivery device, this ad is very effective.


October 13, 2009

I just finished writing about Daggett and his need to change the tone of his ads, and I saw a new health care ad this morning, and thought it was a good opportunity to write more generally about tone.

Maybe I should start with I read about this ad this morning first.  From the National Journal’s Morning Wake-up e-mail: “Americans United for Change is up with a TV ad on DC cable, arguing insurance execs. “are scared of competition…”  Wow, I thought that sounds like a good message, scared of competition, that could work.

Then I watched the ad:

Um, uh.  That’s disappointing, right?  I tried to think about why it was so disappointing and it comes down to tone.

Baseball and insurance companies? Huh?  Maybe the makers of the ad thought they’d hook me with a curious question, instead, it only seemed to minimize their story. Baseball, why are we dragging baseball into this?  It’s confusing and dumb.  It’s too cute and not funny enough to be funny.    The Blacksox scandal? What are they talking about.  And the images?  Sigh….

They have a real message to drive home here, insurance companies are scared of competition from the government. Why are they so scared?  If they’re doing such a great job (and the government is going to do such a crappy job so goes their allies comments), why should they care about a public option?  They should mop the floor with those guys.

Tone is such a subtle thing it helps us to frame the story the ad is trying to tell.  It’s something viewers pick up on from the sound of the narrator, the music, the images, it’s implied rather then spoken.  The baseball music, the flat images don’t imply the seriousness of the message.  Now you can contrast the tone with the message (also called being ironic), a serious message can be delivered in a comedic tone and when done well, it can be very effective.  But being funny is hard, just ask Steve Martin, it takes work.

Someone thought this was a good idea, but to me it looks like an ad that never worked on the script, and if it doesn’t work on the page, it’s unlikely it’ll work on the screen.

Like Chris Daggett, who I talked about earlier, it’s a good message ruined by the poor choice of tone.

P.S. I apologize for any grammatical errors, my copy editor (my wife) is away for a couple weeks.  Have I ever mentioned that I had to take remedial English in both High School and College?


September 14, 2009

Wow. They get points for trying, I guess. I mean I appreciate that they tried a conceptual script instead of the usual blah, blah, blah. But when you just take a narrator script and put it into an actor in a concept (in this case a “political consultant” talking to his candidate after losing), it just doesn’t work. If you’re going to go with the concept you got to go all the way, that’s not close to how real people speak, even political consultants.

On top of that, either this poor actor got bad direction or he’s not a good actor, but in any case, he seemed as phony as the dialogue.

On top of all that, it looks like a public access shoot, with all the good (and cheap) formats of video they have out there these days, why did they decide to shoot this one?

Do they really think this is going to win the day?

Bad acting, bad dialogue, and bad looking make for a bad execution, and I don’t have to guess, I know that makes for bad politics.

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