Posts Tagged ‘metaphor’

Metaphors gone bad

August 31, 2010

Wow. Boxing gloves really?

If you’re gonna use a gimmack, don’t make your candidate looks stupid doing it.

Then there’s this (from @pwire):

“Scott Walker (R) has begun running ads in which he dons boxing gloves and vows to “go the distance” against Tom Barrett (D) in the Wisconsin race for governor, the APreports.

The problem with the fighting metaphor? Barrett “was viciously beaten outside a fairground last year and left with serious injuries” when he “tried to help a screaming woman struggling to protect her 1-year-old granddaughter from being taken by her drunk, belligerent father.””

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Amazing what you can do with a little creativity

March 1, 2010

Sometimes I get down writing this blog.  I feel like all I’m doing is criticizing the crap that passes for commercials, political or otherwise. I really look forward to the days I get to praise a commercial because that’s why I really write this blog to find ads that are praise worthy that can stand as examples of the best of commercials.

A friend sent me this PSA for Sussex safer roads, “Embrace Life.”  I talk a lot about making an emotional argument, that facts aren’t as important as connection, that your visuals should tell a story.  This spot has all those elements.  It’s visually interesting, keeps you guessing at what’s going on, well executed, and emotionally powerful.

The image of the wife and little girl clasping their hands around the dad is striking and moving — it stays with you, and works as a powerful metaphor for what a seatbelt represents.

The real emotion you feel watching helps ground the spot and counters the surreal conceit of the spot.  You don’t dwell on the strangeness of the situation (why is he driving in his living room, that’s not real), you’re able to suspend disbelief and go along with the premise because it’s compelling emotionally and there’s enough velocity to take you through to the end.

And another thing, the spot doesn’t feel preachy.  Often times spots like this can feel holier than thou, trying to make you feel guilty or shamed for your bad behavior. That will almost never work, it’ll just box folks into a corner.  This ad goes another way.  It doesn’t argue facts with facts or stab with guilt, it tells a story with emotions to try and connect to the viewer.  People who don’t wear seat belts will give you a a rational rationale for their behavior, and if you try to talk to them about the merits of their argument, they’ll gladly argue, but you wont change their opinion with facts.

Feelings come first, facts, rationales, reasons come second to explain our feelings — change the feeling, and you don’t need facts, people will seek them out to rationalize their new feeling.

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.

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.

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 on.org 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.

There’s such a fine line between stupid and clever Part II

September 11, 2009

Ok, I’m repeating myself, I know, but I can’t decide which side of the line this goes on:

On one hand, I appreciate trying a different ad, and I’ve talked about the power of metaphor before. This one is pretty good on those fronts.

On the other hand, it’s kinda goofy, and the production values are not great. Why does that matter? Well, people react to all sorts of things, often without knowing what they’re reacting too.

I think the production values of an ad matter in so far as they present the quality and character of a campaign. A cheap looking ad may work if it’s part of the charm (like this classic ad from Paul Wellstone — done by the same consultant as the Daggett ad) or message of the campaign.

A challenger’s ads that look crisp and great say that candidate is ready for the big leagues. (On the other hand, I always felt the Gore for President ads looked too nice and polished — for a guy with a truth problem, whether deserved or not, I thought the ads needed to look grittier and more real.) The form of the ad, has to follow the function.

Here I’m not sure the form is helping Daggett. He needs to make people think he’s a real candidate with a real chance, this feels a more like a college film school project than a real production. No matter what the message is, that can’t help Daggett or his campaign.

Can’t get enough of those health care ads

July 27, 2009

Please excuse the typos and grammar — my copy editor (my wife Nora) is on vacation.

Here’s another health care ad by Move On:

You know, I like the fact that they’re trying — a good metaphor is a great way to connect to a complex issue. That said, trying is about all I like about the ad. Maybe I’m over thinking this thing, but it’s really piss poor execution. The football through the air looks kind of silly, the music is overdone, and while I like the fact that they tried a metaphor, I’m not sure what the metaphor means or why I should care. Is it really a powerful metaphor? A political football? What’s at stake with a football in the air? Besides the metaphor, it’s kind of your standard political presentation.

Compare that metaphor with this one on health care:

The ad, produced by Americans United for Change, uses the symbol of a snail. What’s more the tone, the voice over and the music match with the concept.

Look, the ad’s not perfect, but it really sells almost the same argument in a much more effective way. You get the stakes, it mocks Republican’s delay tactics without being mean or too insider. We’ve been talking about health care for years, go slower? We’ve been moving at a snail’s pace. The only reason to go slower is to kill it. Makes sense, connects. Got it.

Metaphors are good, but you got to pick the right one to make them work.


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