Posts Tagged ‘negative ads’

Like a duck

October 19, 2010

This is the kind of simple ad, that really take a lot of work.  What a pain it must have been to find all those clips and match them up. The visual execution is not groundbreaking, but it’s good enough and doesn’t step on the message.

This ad is like a duck, on the surface it’s calm and seems to be barely straining, underneath, it’s paddling like crazy.  On the surface this ad is devastatingly effective because it is tying to Whitman to Schwarzenegger, who is not particularly popular in California.

Under the surface lies the real punch in this ad.  The repetition of the language points to the common cliches politicians use.  Hearing her words echoing Schwarzenegger’s makes them all the more meaningless, they’re just platitudes with no real meaning, no real value. At end of the ad, with the San Jose Mercury line splashed across the screen, “She utterly lacks the qualifications to be governor,” there’s a real feeling that Whitman is just an empty suit with nothing real to say.

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Attack and Counter in Kentucky

October 18, 2010

In this race, Conway is down, but not an insurmountable amount, but time is running out.  They can go back and forth or they can try for the big play, swing for the fences, knock out blow, pick your favorite sports analogy here. Well, they sure went for it.

I have to appreciate the fact that they didn’t sugar coat, didn’t back down, didn’t try to hide behind a euphemism, but damned this is an ugly ad, for it’s look as much as it’s content. The ad is so extreme in it’s claim, that it’s hard for me to judge how effective it’ll be.

To me, it feels like it’s trying real hard, almost too hard.  Desperate might not be the right word…, I think the word I’m looking for is pandering. Hey Kentucky, you’re Christians, well Rand Paul he’s not or maybe he’s not, see don’t you hate him now, huh, please, right?  (Eyebrows making exaggerate pleas.)

There’s no formula to these things, but I believe that the harder and more outrageous the claim, the softer you ought to sell it. This ad is an 11 on the claim scale, and a 9 on the political negative cliche scale.

Josh Marshall said, “It registered for me as somewhere between a hokey Tea Party ad and an SNL spoof.” It’s never a good thing when your hard hitting negative looks like a spoof of an ad. In the whole form supporting function, it just doesn’t add to the credibility of the ad.

It’s one thing to make the decision to air the attack, but the manner it was aired makes it feel clumsy and desperate, a more refined ad, might have overcome that problem.

Paul countered with this ad stating, “He has Christ in his heart,” and that Conway is “[bearing] false witness” against him.

The response to Conway’s attack makes me wonder if Paul didn’t feel vulnerable to it. Seems like overkill to say you both have “Christ in your heart” and he’s bearing false witness again you, but I’m from Kentucky, and I’m not the one who’s had my christianity questioned.  Obviously that last line is a not too subtle attempt to invoke biblical language.  Again feels like pandering to me, “See Kentucky, I can say things like bear witness and smite, so I must be Christian….” Ok he doesn’t say “smite” but maybe he should have.

The response is pretty cliche (other than false witness which you don’t hear very often these days), dark grayed out shots of Conway, his lips flapping hard edged newpaper headlines to accentuate their point (though the script ads the line “gutter politics at its worse,” which isn’t a quote as far as I can tell).  This ad isn’t as over the top as the original ad, but if Boris were here he might say, “Rand,… check yourself…..”

So who wins this round? Both ads are pretty lame, so as far as form goes, it’s a draw.  The Conway ad feels a little cheaper, the Paul ad cleaner and slicker, but neither one distinguishes themselves.

So if it comes down to function, I’ll give the win to Conway on the technical point that they raised the issue, and it seems that’s what folks are talking about with two weeks left in the campaign.  Maybe it backfires, maybe it doesn’t work, but it’s not what Paul wants to be talking about that’s for sure.

A tale of two negative ads

October 14, 2010

I love the design of this ad.  It’s really well executed, down to the thought bubbles on Mark Schauer and China.  The issues in this ad are packaged well, so it’s not the specifics that hit home, but rather the thought “What were you thinking….” That’s a smart attack and the execution helps drive it home. Too often we get caught up in trying to hit each issue point rather than the message or conclusion the issues are supposed to be driving home. We forgot about winning the war, and focus on the battle.  This ad is one of my favorites this year.

Compare it to this ad against Sharon Angle from Harry Reid. It feels like a bunch of individual items thrown together into an ad. There’s no design, no frame except at the end of the ad.  Unlike the NRCC in the ad above Reid actually has issues to hit Angle on, but the result of the attack is less than the sum of their parts because it feels like their is no coordination — between the issues themselves, nor between the voice and the visuals or the design.

Which of these ads is more effective? Well, you run enough money behind the Reid ad, and it’ll get through, eventually. But the Reid ad is exactly why people hate political ads. It’s hitting them over the head because it has to, it’s attrition warfare defined.  The NRCC ad is clever, it engages, it frames, it breaks through much easier in my opinion, it sticks, it an example of maneuver warfare.

Given the choice, it’s better to go around your enemy than through them.

Now I’ve seen it all

October 13, 2010

I have to say I’ve never seen anything quite like this ad. It’s a mixture of compelling, disturbing, amateurish, and odd all at once.  I’d wonder if it was real, but it comes via Politico.

The initial CG in yellow and red is long and hard to read, and I wonder if they were saving money not using a narrator or if that was for dramatic effect. And then the CG in the middle — are we supposed to be more angry that’s he’s for mass killing of animals or that he undid a deal that was two years in the making?  Do we really need that piece of information at this point?

Also, I’m all for good sound design, but the dog and cat sounds at the front are a little much, and the dog barking uncontrollably at the end, while I’m sure was intentional feels like a mistake.

People are really into their pets, so the issue might have some traction, but executed this way it feels haphazard and not professionally done.

OK.

October 7, 2010

This new ad from the DCCC is a hammer. It’s not pretty, it’s not particularly creative, it’s not particularly well written, but it still smashes it’s target in the face.  Sometimes when you have the right tool for the job that’s enough, you don’t need to be particularly skilled.

I think the line this spot lacks is something like, “As a police officer, Perry was supposed to protect the innocent, and he stood by and did nothing….” The imagine your daughter line at the top is too much.  But whatever, it’s a good attack, and at least in this case a hammer is good enough to get the job done.

…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?

Now, we’re cooking with Gas

September 29, 2010

In an earlier post, I wondered aloud why Melancon didn’t come hard after Vitter on the prostitution scandal (was there a pun in there somewhere).

Well, this isn’t a commercial for air, as it runs 2 minutes, but I think it’s pretty darn good. I love the way they parody the reality crime show genre. Also notice here how they stay with the parody the entire way through.  There’s little that feels like a political ad, they really stuck with the concept all the way through.  (I wonder if the people really wanted anonymity or if it was just part of the genre they’re parodying, in either case I think it works.)

One question is will they have the guts to put this on the air?  I can easily see the promo version of this video, next on “Forgotten Crimes…”

The real question is this too little too late, or will this be the knock out punch to Vitter.

[Editor’s Note: According to Talking Points Memo, the two minute piece is the ad, and it’s going to run on cable.]

One small problem

September 28, 2010

Some good hits in this ad, and it’s a nice twist  — usually it’s Republicans saying Democrats are in line with the Taliban or the terrorists or whatever.

Oh, what’s the problem?  Just this little fact:

“Grayson has lowered the bar even further. He’s using edited video to make his rival appear to be saying the opposite of what he really said,” the nonpartisan site, sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, wrote on its blog Monday.”

The truth? Oh, that…. Here’s the thing, you got your opponent with some pretty extreme votes. That’s some pretty good evidence, why overplay your hand, by taking his comments out of context and deliberately misrepresenting them? It’s just stupid.  Now instead of voters hearing how extreme what’s his name is, they hear Grayson lied about what’s his name. And the extreme part? That sort of gets lost, ignored or worse, becomes part of the lie.

On a personal level, an ad like this makes me angry.  It’s one thing to spin, to try and create a narrative with your opponents record or even ascribe motives to their actions, it’s another thing to knowingly lie and distort. Either the person who made this ad, doesn’t have any morals, are so contemptuous of voters they think they can lie to them with impunity, are amateurs or all three.  This kind of ad is why folks hate political ads. There really should be some penalty for this kind of shamelessness.

How to make the same old, different

September 24, 2010

I think this ad from the DCCC is pretty well executed. Outsourcing is an issue that seems to be popping up in a lot of races across the country.  So, it’s harder and harder to make an ad about outsourcing that distinguishes itself from the rest.  I thought it was an interesting execution, that doesn’t look like other ads, but I also appreciate the fact that it’s tone is whimsical without being flip.

Good work.

Framing your argument

September 22, 2010

I like the look of this new ad from the DSCC, I’ve wanted to use a filmstrip style look for a while now.  I think this is a pretty good ad, and does a lot to undercut Christine O’Donnell.  Instead of attacking her character or wacky ideas, they go straight for her competence. I think that’s a good approach.

Frankly, most of the ad is filer (in the sense, I can’t remember a thing is actually said) till you get to the last line from a “former employee.” That’s the killer, saying she was financially irresponsible, a former employee, bam! It goes back to validation. The last line nails it home, and gives everything that came before it a frame and context.

Do you need the other attacks, “didn’t pay her taxes,” etc, I don’t know. I can’t remember the specifics by the end, but I do remember that employee saying she was financially irresponsible. Certainly, you could lose the rhetoric, she would fit right in in Washington. If you didn’t know she didn’t pay her taxes or hired an employee she didn’t pay, or whatever else she didn’t do with her money, would it matter? Don’t know.

Still this is a good hit, and a step above the usual party attack ad.


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