Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Reality speaks for itself.

June 5, 2012

Been a long absence — a lot of travel, and I keep meaning to post, but I’ve been too tired and distracted.  But I saw this ad today, and it kinda annoyed me, so I thought I’d take ten minutes to share my annoyance:

The ad is actually shot pretty well, nice shots, readers of this blog should be able to guess what drives me nuts about the ad…. Did you guess yet?

I think the acting in this spot is flat, and it’s made worse by the language, “Folks who want to keep things going the same way in North Carolina….” Lines like that are political rhetoric not how people talk, it’s a talking point, not casual conversation.  They try to juxtapose that language with some casual lines (“is he not well,” “good guy…”).  I guess the reason this spot bothers me so much, is that it feels like the creators are smart enough to know they can’t just use talking points, so they’re trying, but they can’t help themselves.

The lose the real in the message. If this ad had tried to have less message, but more real, it would be a better ad. Still it was shot pretty well…..


The road ahead or dead end?

April 25, 2012

Protect NC Families is up with two ads trying to defeat the discriminatory Amendment 1:

I’m split on these ads.  From a tactical point of view, I like them, they try to tackle an issue in an emotional way, telling a story and putting a face to the consequences of passing an amendment that might otherwise be anonymous. They’re well filmed and well made, not earth shattering, but really solid and professional.

At the strategic level, I wonder if these spots are barking up the right tree. I totally get the thinking, we can’t argue gay marriage in North Carolina, we’ll never win, so let’s make it about straight folks, real North Carolinians who will lose their rights. We’ll get them on self interest. Shoot, even as I write the argument down it’s compelling, and I could see myself falling down a similar rabbit hole.

But while it’s compelling, I’m not sure it’s right (funny thing about being wrong, it feels just like being right… until the moment you realize you’re wrong). First off people vote on values, they vote on emotion, they don’t vote on rational self interest. Secondly, there’s been some pretty interesting research that you don’t move people when you talk about gay marriage as a rights issue.  People don’t get married for their partners benefits, they get married because they love each other, they get married to make a commitment to that love, they get married to spent their lives together — not to spend their insurance coverage.

So I wonder if the Protect NC Families is miscalculating. I’m sure on a poll this message drives voters, but in the real world, I wonder if it’s a dead end — especially to the extent that the Amendment is associated with gay marriage in the mind of voters. It’s sort of pulling a bait and switch, don’t think of an elephant kind of trick.

Compare those ads with this one from New York:

This ad takes the point of view of straight people, but does it in the context of a mother’s love for her child, and her approval of her son’s love for another man. That’s a pretty powerful message, and it doesn’t risk alienating voters. I wonder if these ads are just being too cute with this issue instead of trying to deal with it head on.

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.

Favorite Senate Candidate of 2010 (April Edition)

April 21, 2010

Cal Cunningham might be my new favorite candidate for congress.

So far he’s 2 for 2 in my book, with another strong ad.  I like the beginning with all the CG’s incorporated into the buildings.  I like how he becomes a part of his website, and I especially like the end tag: “I approve this message because North Carolina is where we fight back.”

It’s interesting (and effective) because he’s taking the other side’s rhetoric and making it his own.  I think it’s also effective because it’s vague enough that it let’s people read their own subtext into that.  It could be “fight back” against the government, “fight back” against Wall Street, “fight back” against Republicans.  I think Cunningham also sells this spot, he’s pretty good reading to camera.

My one criticism of the spot is that it’s very issues heavy,  I lose some of Cunningham in that section — I lose my connection to him.

Still, this is a very nicely done spot.

Sometimes it’s the simple things.

April 13, 2010

Really nice opening ad from Cal Cunningham.  I think the open is stronger than the end, with the bleached out shots of the flag and out the bus window, it’s more evocative and emotionally powerful.

The line “Now I want to fight a different kind of war…” feels like an awkward transition to  the issues section of the spot, which I’m not sure they really needed.  They could referenced service again, and kept it more general, like “Now I’m running for the US Senate, to service again by breaking through the partisanship in Washington, and help the people of North Carolina…”  This middle section is the weakest part of the ad.

The ad comes back strong with it’s disclaimer, “I approve this message, for them.” It’s unusual and somewhat mysterious so it gets my attention on a part of the spot that’s usually a throw away.

Like I said, overall this is a strong opening spot.  While I don’t feel all warm and fuzzy for Cal Cunningham, I like him and what to know more about it.  Like a look bio movie, the ad doesn’t try to tell you everything about Cal Cunningham’s life, but it takes some episode that says something larger about the person.

I’ll be looking out for the follow up to this ad to see what they have in store next.

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