Posts Tagged ‘humor’

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.

Funny is not being on-message ( ad)

June 17, 2013

Money in politics. It’s an important issue, but one that doesn’t really get the attention it deserves. It’s also one of those issues that if you ask most people they’d agree that money in politics has corrupted our political system. The problem is both the intentisty of their feeling, the vaguenes of what it actually means, and then ultimately, what do you do about the problem (I had  a poli sci professor, Professor Cobb who always said politicians never idtentify a problem without telling you the solution).

This ad is funny, and the gimmick at it’s core seems to be tightly connected to its central message, but I’d argue the ad is both off-message and off-emotion.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot today because it does seem to perfectly capture the zeigiest around this issue but it nagged at me. Here’s the thing, the image of an elderly man is funny. But targetting politicians is too easy, so while the image of an old man on a pole is unexpected, the message that politicians are stippers or whores isn’t so unexpected. Who doesn’t think that already?

Emotionally, the ad uses surprise and anger. But again the surprise isn’t on-message, and we’re already angry at our politicians if Congress’ approval rating means anything.

So really what is the ad asking the audience to do? It’s not driving us to action nor creating a new link or adding a new thought to our understanding of the influence of money in politics.

Refering back to the Apple signature ad I looked at yesterday, this ad does the exact opposite. Apple focuses on the experience that the features create. This ad focuses on the features (politicians will do anything for money) rather than the experience (how congress sells out the middle class to big corporate interests or whatever they’re trying to say).

Most of the time when I criticize gimmicks its because they’re only about getting attention and don’t connect to the core message. Here the issue is slightly different, the gimmick connects to the core, but I think has chosen the wrong core. Maybe it gets some attention, so in that sense it could be a useful proposition, but it feels like a wasted opportunity to frame an issue and offer a solution.

It’s a fine line between stupid and clever

April 22, 2013

Pretty funny ad from Kmart.

The ad is of course provacative, and at it’s core basically a gimmick. I laughed at the execution, and I think it will be successful to the extent that Kmart’s message is tied into the gimmick. Essentially could the ad be from another retailer in the same market space, let’s say Target or JC Penny?

At the end of the day how much do people connect the “ship my pants” ad to Kmart or do they jsut remember some department store had the “ship my pants” ad? In other words does it succeed in pushing the message or does it simple amuse?

Is it enough?

June 30, 2010

I know I just posted, but this ad is worth watching.  I think it is well, done, it’s tie in to images that are in the public consciousness is very effective, it doesn’t take time to over explain its premise, it has some nice detail (the scrubbing of the hands and watch), and it has an element of the unexpected.

The spot does a good job of brining attention to the issue of Climate Legislation, though I’m not sure if actually makes a good case for why we need that legislation.  Is invoking images of oil covered animals enough?

We interrupt our regularly schedule programing…

April 28, 2010

I was going to post about this ad from Pete Domenici, Jr.

This ad is a prime example of teleprompter gone bad, I swear you can see him squinting to read from the prompter.  The long and the short of it is, if you’re running for governor your ads have to have enough gravitas for the office (especially if you have a famous last name).  Now there are exceptions to that rule, but those exceptions must portray the candidate as viable and be authentic.  This is almost a bad parody of a political ad.

This is the ad that bumped the teleprompter gone bad series:

As tough as it is, I’m going to leave the controversial issue of English only aside.  This is going to sound scary, but I think this is a pretty effective ad.  There’s one too many close up shots of Tim James walking towards the camera, but other than that, I can see this ad connecting with a lot of people.  My old film school teacher Boris used to say, “Guys, close up is mystery.”  Here the close up creates a connection, and I think the mystery is that you can read into Tim James the qualities you want.

I appreciate the close-up only because it indicates that the director made a choice.  It would have been easy (and safer) to shoot this wide, then go close, then wide, standard stuff.  The fact that they stayed close and had James walking tells me that they were thinking about it, as opposed to doing the same old.  I appreciate that kind of thoughtfulness.

I think Tim James himself does a great job of delivering the message. Again, politics aside, he’s believable and tough, but he also he comes across as strong and not an asshole or some hair on fire radical (again, politics aside).  That’s a tough act to accomplish when you’re talking about English only.

I find the ending particularly compelling. While the pause (or “beat”) may be slightly longer than I would have liked, I think it’s effective, “Maybe it’s the businessman in me, but we’ll save money and it makes sense…*beat*… Does it to you?” I think that pause, the line helps to draw the audience in, gives them time to engage with the argument, and makes James seem even more reasonable, he’s asking what I think —  wow he must really care.  The soft ending helps defuse the hard message. If tea party politicians start figuring out how to put a candy coating on their message it could be a real big problem for progressives.

My partner (the Rabin part of Rabin Strasberg) reminded me of the similarly themed Buchanan for President ad “Meatball”:

The ad is similar in that it takes the same inflammatory issue and deal with it in a soft way — in this case humor.  This ad is also a good example of a gimmick that actually works. It’s memorable  and on message. Of course, the argument didn’t take Buchanan very far in 2000, I’m curious how it’ll work for Tim James.

So close…

February 10, 2010

So I had a post planned about my favorite Super Bowl ad, but then I saw this video, and I wanted to talk about it:

This video is close to being good, really good.  It’s premise is brilliant, and you can see that the folks who created it really had a good time with it.

So close…. But in the end it falls short. Why?  Two reasons: 1) It’s too darned long.  I get the joke, the joke is funny, I don’t need three minutes of the same joke — it’s a like a Saturday Night Live skit that’s overstayed it’s welcome. I forced myself to get about a 1:30 into it, but after that, I realized they weren’t taking it in new directions or really giving me new information, just rehashing jokes I had already laughed at.  It really needed an editor or someone to say, we should leave the audience wanting more.  It’s just too thrilled with it’s own cleverness.

And, 2) I’ve made this point before, but humor comes from playing the reality of an absurd situation, not from playing the absurdity of it.  The b-roll here tries too hard.  I’m with the video when the “lobbyist” is on camera, but every time we cut to b-roll of him with his “matched’ politician, it loses me, it’s just a little too goofy. To use a phrase I’ve used recently, the tone of the b-roll doesn’t match the tone of the sit down section, and it throws me off.

One thing I had to learn as a writer was when to edit myself.  I wanted to get so much into a sentence, a paragraph, a document, so I added that extra line, one more phrase.  Experience has taught me that less is usually more, and sometimes that means sacrificing something you really like to make the whole better.

That’s the problem with this video.  If it was a minute, it would have been hilarious even with the distracting b-roll.  If it had been a minute with better b-roll or no b-roll, it would have been brilliant in execution and concept.  (BTW, it’s not lost on me that this is an attack on Senator Lisa Murkowski, and I like the fact that the attack is so subtle, it helps the attack to “stick” in my mind.)  But, as this video stands now it’s clever, and so close, but ultimately falls short.

Spots of the Decade: Honorable Mention

December 19, 2009

I wish I could list the best political spots of the decade, but I’m not sure I could come up with the list.

So I I’m opting for best ads of the decade, starting with my honorable mention choice.

I love this spot, it’s so well executed, and it sums up the genre of dot com spots that dominated advertising in the early part of the decade.  I still laugh out loud watching it, its very clever and memorable.  Well, kind of memorable, see I remember the ad, but I can never, for the life of me, remember who it’s for. I remember what they do is like herding cats (great metaphor), but not sure what it is they actually do.

See that’s the problem with this ad, and the other ads of this genre.  They’re spitting on the table memorable, but there message is lost in the humor and cleverness.  I’m reading an interesting book (only about 25% through), “Personality Not Included,” which argues for the importance of personality in marketing.  One of the key issues with personality is that it needs to be authentic.

This ad, and the genre is represents, are funny, clever, memorable, but they fail ultimately because they don’t connect any of those qualities to the company they represent.  Is the company funny and clever?  What is the personality of the company?  The Apple ads work because they connect to the core of what Apple is — hip, clever, outside the box, marching to the beat of their own drummer.

Its’ not enough to be all those things if it doesn’t connect to a message, a core value, a core principle something real and authentic that people can identify with your brand.

A little hanukkah hunor

December 7, 2009

Saw this PSA this morning.

I find it amusing and disturbing at the same time.  I guess there is no easy way to talk about getting a pap smear, so humor is the way to go, just not sure this humor works.  It certainly puts the issue out there, but without any kind of reinforcement, I wonder if it will actually have the desired effect.

Here’s an example…

October 13, 2009

I was trying to think of a funny ad, that exemplified my point about tone.  While making lunch I remembered this ad from Ned Lamont, who ran against Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary.

Ned Lamont has a messy desk…  What makes this ad work is that it takes itself seriously, overly so, but seriously nonetheless. It sounds and looks like a classic attack ad, but the contrast of the absurdity of the claims with the seriousness of tone make it funny.

Take a look at this scene from a classic “I Love Lucy.”

Lucille Ball doesn’t play the humor of the moment, she plays the reality of it.  What do you do when the conveyor belt goes too fast?  It’s funny because it’s played straight, when you play for laughs, you often don’t get them.

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