Posts Tagged ‘negative iq’

Let the message speak.

June 6, 2012

Obama is up with another attack on Mitt Romney.

I think this is a good ad and an even better attack. The ad itself is simply executed, but has some nice graphic touches (like the graph lines rising up in the columns of the Mass Capitol, the way they pull the quote from the editorial and the way they scroll the list of states to #47).  I think the simplicity shows a good touch with the material, letting it speak for itself.

In lieu of some alternative information, the attack seems pretty damning — Romney did a horrible job with the Massachusetts economy.  As the opening and closing quotes show, this goes to the heart of the rationale for voting for Romney — his record.  This strategy is a nice bit of political aikido turning your opponent’s strength and energy against them. That’s the real power of this ad, it succeeds at the strategic level because it calls into question the foundation of Romney’s experience and appeal.

That attack works because they stick to the “facts” using editorials and statistics without commenting too much on those objective descriptors of Romney’s performance. I’ve written before that sometimes an ad needs to just get out of it’s own way, and this is a good example of that.  The message is the thing here, if they had tried to do too much with it, they could risk losing that powerful message in the barrage of the messenger.

Final Push Nevada

October 27, 2010

Harry Reid’s final ad (maybe according to Plum Line) isn’t about Harry Reid at all, but rather is all about Sharron Angle’s world. Of the Reid  ads I’ve seen this one is the most effective. They’re still cramming a lot in there, and the prisoner massage stuff is a little out of the blue, but it’s really the first ad from Reid that really uses emotion to drive the message rather than logic.  This ad doesn’t tell you how to feel (you should be scared of crazy Sharron Angle), it just presents the elements of the argument to the viewer which I believe is a better/stronger way to go.  It leaves room for viewers to fill in the last step for themselves.

Don’t know if the design elements work (the colorized images and the grid — I think it’s a grid), but the ad works, not a great, but a good ending salvo.

And it’s much better than what the DSCC put up on Reid’s behalf.  First there was this one:

The good news: I think it’s smart to face up to voter’s anger, that’s the only reason someone like Angle is this close to becoming a US Senator.  I would have liked to see more ads that acknowledge that fact, reflect it back to voters.   The bad news, I find it insulting when the narrator says, “Imagine how angry you’ll be when Sharron Angle..” and “Work that anger out in the ring cause voting for Sharron Angle is only going to hurt yourself.” Just as understanding as the opening language was, that language is patronizing and out of touch.

I find the kick boxing distracting, and I can’t actually take in the information they’re trying to present. Points for trying don’t count for much in politics, I just think they got it wrong here, the ad ultimately feels tone deaf.

The followup to kickboxer, references the same line at the top and has a better transition (not as insulting is better).  This ad almost feels like an acknowledgement that the first one was a mistake.  It’s defiantly better, but suffer from the same problem as most of the anti-Angle ads do, the ad feels jammed packed even though they’re only talking about jobs and social security.  Maybe it’s the design of the ad, but I find it hard to focus on one thing, I had to watch it three times just to write this post (it felt like seven issues in there).

Knowing that voters are angry, the ads are trying to make the race about Angle, will that be enough on election day to keep Angle from 50%?

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.

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.

Negative Ad Trifecta

September 17, 2010

There’s a chapter in the fabulous parenting book, “Nurture Shock,” that talks about bullying. Contrary to the stereotype, most bullies are not the anti-social loners of Columbine myth (if you’re interested, you should read the gripping and thoughtful account, “Columbine”), but rather they’re usually at those at the top of the social food chain. Why? The reason is pretty simple actually, if you’re socially intelligent enough to climb to the top of the social ladder, you’re probably able to read people enough to know there weak points. In other words, bullies tend to be high in emotional intelligence, social intelligence, whatever you want to call it.

Ok, now you’re wondering what this has to do with political ad making?  I think good negative ads are a lot like those real bullies at the top of the social food chain. Anyone can make a negative ad.  Negative ads are both hard and easy: Easy because there’s almost no bigger cliche in politics than the negative ad — dark grainy picture, somber music, the picture of your opponent next to some CG like, “Stood with X [pick the symbol of the other side, over the years, it’s been Gingrich, Clinton, Bush, Kerry, these days it’s Obama & Pelosi] to do Y [pass health care, give a big tax break to the wealthy, run up deficits, cut social security…].”

Negative ads are hard though, hard to get right, hard to find the right balance, between information (which is really a MacGuffin) and emotion, between framing your opponent in the way that you want and letting the viewer get to that place on their own (so they feel like it was their own idea).  Between making the viewer not like your opponent, but not hate you too much. So many fine lines are there.  It’s easy to make a hammer, though often what’s needed is a scalpel.

A lot like the bullies of “Nurtureshock,” its not about punches and physical attack, but more about emotional and intellectual manipulation. You need to have a feel for it, otherwise you’re apt to make an ad like this one:

This ad feels like amateur hour.  Buck feels stiff and is obviously reading (uncomfortably) off a prompter. Compare this ad with the one from the other day with the horse racing.  Which one would you rather watch? Which one makes it’s point?  Heck, even the North Carolina rocking chair ad shows a certain negative IQ so to speak, here’s another ad that just feels a negative tone deaf to me:

Or this one from Jack Conway against Rand Paul.

I like how he uses Paul’s quote, that’s a nice way to validate your statement with the view, but at the end of the day, I just don’t believe it, in spite of the quote.

Knowing how far to push and when to draw the line in an attack is as important as knowing which attack to make.  This ad seems to go over both lines.


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