Posts Tagged ‘kitchen sink’

That’s a mouthful… (and my “but” rule)

August 7, 2013

My first thought: Wow, Senator Pryor really doesn’t like Tom Cotton.

My Second Thoughts: This is part of a new trend of early ads (this ad is for an election over a year away) whether to buck up your support or keep your opponent from every gaining steam, these ads are becoming increasingly common.

My Third Thought: What a mess. They start by hitting Cotton for blind ambition, but then say, “…but let’s talk about Cotton’s record.” I have a rule of life — everything before the but is either a lie or doesn’t matter. You’re a great guy… but… You’re doing great work… but…. That’s a terrific point… but….

So we have blind ambition and then a litany of issues Cotton is on the wrong side of.  So what’s the walk away here? What’s my new story about Cotton? There is none. This ad seems akin to pouring gas on a car, hoping some will get into the tank. Ads should make choices, they should weave a story, but there’s no choice here except a chocie to throw the kitchen sink at the guy.

So instead of hammering a message, introducing a story about Cotton,  there’s no message and nothing to hang your hat on, except this is another political ad, isn’t it early for that?

Who is this Guy?

February 22, 2012

Just finished a great book Storybranding  The book echoes a lot of concepts I discuss here on the blog, like the need for emotional connection, storytelling and authenticity.  One idea it discusses is the difference between the outer layer of a brand and the inner layer.  The out layer of a brand is the how — a better mousetrap, a easier to use computer, a new kind of laundry soap, the inner layer represents the why — the values and rationale for why a brand, company, politician does what they do.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these ideas in recent days, especially in light of Santorum’s rise and Romney’s lack of traction.  For simplicity sake, Romney is running for President, Santorum is running to restore American values (or something like that) — which message is more powerful. You don’t need to be a conservative to show (not tell) the values behind what you’re doing.  A good campaign is able to “show” it’s values in everything it does.

I bring up these thoughts in light of this first commercial from Bill Faison, running for Governor North Carolina.

My first question after watching the ad is, who is this guy?  I assume most of North Carolina really doesn’t know Faison, so they’re trying to build his profile.  Ok, I get that, but other than name id, what do you know about Faison? Really, do you have any sense of who he is, why he’s running?  The ad is filled with cliches: “Get North Carolina Moving,” “Working together.” Cliches are fine because they’re shorthand, but you start throwing them around and they start to become meaningless.

The ad starts with “A New Leader” and he’s “fighting for the little guy” — either one of those ideas (both cliche) would make a fine theme to introduce this guy to voters.  But tossed in here together with getting the state “back to work” and “world class schools” (more cliche), they’re near meaningless. I talked recently about kitchen sink ads, and while this one doesn’t quite rise to that class, it has so many different ideas, that it’s just more blah, blah, blah.

After 30 seconds, I have no idea who this guy is, I have no connection to him. What’s going to happen after 1000 points? As I’ve drilled my kids over and over, anything times zero equals zero, 10,000,000,000 x 0 = 0.

The point here isn’t to rip on one ad or make Bill Faison question his choice of consultant, the point is something bigger actually. Here’s your chance to introduce your candidate statewide, what’s the walk away? What the theme that you want them to connect to the candidate?  The theme doesn’t have to be in the text, it could be the subtext.  (The subtext in this ad seems to be Bill Faison is very soft spoken.) But, they need a theme and idea.  I love fighting for the little guy, hell, we all feel like little guys these days with the bad economy, but here its nothing more than a throwaway line, that we’re told and expected to believed.  How much better would it have been to have shown us. As a lawyer, he fought for regular people injured by medical negligence and big corporations (I just got that from his wikipedia page).

This kind of ad makes me angry, because it’s shot fine, and it’s predictably standard that no one will call it out for being the worst kind of tripe. Forget mudslinging and negative ads, these re the ads that destroy our faith in politicians and make us increasingly cynical about the political process, forget ineffective, this ad is guilty of a far worse crime.

Stuffed full

February 15, 2012

Rick Santorum is surging in the polls, and sure has a lot to say in his newest ad:

When I saw this ad, I wanted to comment about it, but can’t remember what I wanted to say. So je may have more to say in the ad than I have to say commenting about the ad, but here goes.

Let see he says:

First, he opens with a rhetorical question, who has the best chance to beat Obama… alright, I guess he’s setting us up for the big reveal… it’s him!

Next he declares himself a full spectrum conservative. I love when consultants make up phrases to cover some concept they need to explain quickly.  Of course, I’m not sure what full spectrum conservative means, but maybe all those half and quarter spectrum conservatives get it.

Third idea in the spot: A favorite of the tea party…. So this goes along with conservative full or half spectrum. But is the tea party really known for their strong stand on fighting corruption?

Forth, a jobs plan (cause you know, people care about jobs) that’ll make America an economic super power again. (How’s that? Well, he said it so it must be true.)

Fifth a summary of what they’ve said though now he’s a “trusted” conservative who can beat Obama.

That’s a lot of ideas to get across all at once, it feels like he’s trying to make up for lost time, and get in all his good arguments all at once. It’s a lot to take in, and even harder given the odd choice of music that sounds like it was stolen from an 80’s news open (wish I could find the scene from “Broadcast News” where the composer introduces his new opening music, and big finish).

Visually the ad is the typical with a lot of pretty shots of Santorum with his family (because you know he has values and he’s a full spectrum conservative) — not really interesting.

You never know the decision behind running an ad, all you can do it speculate, but it sure feels like the Santorum folks feel like they’re only getting one shot at this apple, so they better throw everything and the kitchen sink into one ad.  I can understand that desire, but I believe they would have been better off, slowing it down, and focusing on one or two things — like the conservative to beat obama theme, maybe letting the CG do some of the policy work (CG: “A jobs plan… Restore America to an Economic super power”).  Sometimes when you try to say it all, you say nothing. Not sure this ad fails that badly, but it kinda just gets lost in itself.



…and the kitchen sink too

October 1, 2010

Comparing two ads, the first is a NRCC ad against Alan Grayson.

Grayson you may remember from a few posts ago, took his opponent’s quote out of context to make it seem like he was saying the very thing he was denouncing.  That’s pretty despicable stuff. And the NRCC goes after him…, sort of…. They attack him for that, and for two or three other quotes to get the payoff line, “He’s a national embarrassment.” That’s a good payoff, but I’m not there with them when they get there.  They’ve thrown too many things out there, Obama Health Care, comparing Christianity to the Taliban, I don’t remember what else, but it’s all too much.

They had a great case to make, what Grayson did was unethical, he lied, and tried to manipulate the public. It’s one thing to be an embarrassment, it’s another thing to be immoral and a liar.  If the NRCC had seen fit to focus their attack on that one act, I think it would have been enough, and a devastating attack, as it is,by trying to put too much into the attack,  I think this attack misses the mark or at the very least, deflects off of Grayson.

The other ad is against old Roy Blunt:

This one hits the mark, pretty effectively, and it adds a chuckle at the end for the effort. It also uses multiple examples to drive a point home. Why does this one work, while the NRCC one doesn’t?

I think it comes down to the concept of Schwerpunkt. Essentially schwerpunkt is “was a center of gravity towards which was made the point of maximum effort, in an attempt to seek a decisive action. Ground, mechanized and tactical air forces were concentrated at this point of maximum effort whenever possible.”  The Grayson attack doesn’t concentrate it’s efforts,so it can’t break through, the Carnahan ad on the other hand is focused, it attacks along one access and stays focuses on that axis.

Next time you’re working on an attack/negative ad, ask yourself are you concentrating your attack at a point of maximum effort? Or is your attack spread out?

I support all that and a kitchen sink

May 4, 2010

Here’s a type of ad I haven’t talked about before:

Its not a bad ad, I particularly like the “effective” & “independent” quotes, that kind of third party validation is what sticks with me.  No, it’s not bad, it’s just jammed packed, jumping from issue, to issue, to issue.  I counted at least seven separate issues:

1. There’s the response and attack to the Giannoulias ad

2. Naval intelligence office… who served in Afganistan

3. Record on Stem Cells

4. and stopping BP from polluting Lake Michigan

5. Independent and effective quotes

6. Help stop wasteful spending in Washington,

7. and corruption in Illinois.

Phew.  That’s a lot of bullet points to hit in one ad.  What are people going to remember? Maybe Naval Intelligence officer? Maybe the quotes?  Maybe one of the issues, pick one: Corruption, wasteful spending, stem cells, polluting. The point is that it’s trying to get everything in there and the kitchen sink.  Now sometimes that’s necessary if you’re a candidate who has only enough money for one ad.  But I would still question the approach: Giving people too much information risks them remembering nothing.  It’s like a sound that’s too loud, we just block it out, ignore it, it engages our mental filters.

Don’t you think Kirk would have been better off with the beginning: responding to Giannoulias then focusing on something like: He’s a naval intelligence officer who’s been called effective and independent…. That would let the spot breath and let your audience absorb what they need to get out of it, instead of just throwing a bunch of crap out there and seeing what you get get to stick with enough repetition.

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