Posts Tagged ‘off emotion’

Funny is not being on-message ( ad)

June 17, 2013

Money in politics. It’s an important issue, but one that doesn’t really get the attention it deserves. It’s also one of those issues that if you ask most people they’d agree that money in politics has corrupted our political system. The problem is both the intentisty of their feeling, the vaguenes of what it actually means, and then ultimately, what do you do about the problem (I had  a poli sci professor, Professor Cobb who always said politicians never idtentify a problem without telling you the solution).

This ad is funny, and the gimmick at it’s core seems to be tightly connected to its central message, but I’d argue the ad is both off-message and off-emotion.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot today because it does seem to perfectly capture the zeigiest around this issue but it nagged at me. Here’s the thing, the image of an elderly man is funny. But targetting politicians is too easy, so while the image of an old man on a pole is unexpected, the message that politicians are stippers or whores isn’t so unexpected. Who doesn’t think that already?

Emotionally, the ad uses surprise and anger. But again the surprise isn’t on-message, and we’re already angry at our politicians if Congress’ approval rating means anything.

So really what is the ad asking the audience to do? It’s not driving us to action nor creating a new link or adding a new thought to our understanding of the influence of money in politics.

Refering back to the Apple signature ad I looked at yesterday, this ad does the exact opposite. Apple focuses on the experience that the features create. This ad focuses on the features (politicians will do anything for money) rather than the experience (how congress sells out the middle class to big corporate interests or whatever they’re trying to say).

Most of the time when I criticize gimmicks its because they’re only about getting attention and don’t connect to the core message. Here the issue is slightly different, the gimmick connects to the core, but I think has chosen the wrong core. Maybe it gets some attention, so in that sense it could be a useful proposition, but it feels like a wasted opportunity to frame an issue and offer a solution.


April 16, 2013

Let’s take a trip to LA, where they’re having a big Mayor’s race.

This ad is really pretty, well executed ad, but it leaves me feeling flat. Maybe’s it’s Wendy Gruel’s delivery, maybe it’s just that it feels like it’s trying too hard, but in any case it doesn’t grab me they it should given the elements. Like somehow the ad doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts.

A different kind of gimmick

August 2, 2012

Wasn’t planning on writing about this ad, but I’m the middle of a great book, “Winning the Story Wars,” and it helped me focus my thoughts about the ad in a way that I thought was helpful:

I write a lot about gimmicks — ads that use a trick or device to get attention. When these ads work, the gimmick is on-emotion and in tune with the authentic story of the brand (or candidate).  When they don’t work, it’s often because the gimmick is just spitting on the table — it’s only about getting attention, and the emotional connection to the brand or message is non-existant.

This Cicilline ad uses a different kind of gimmick. It wasn’t clear to me until I read this from “Winning the Story Wars”:

The Trial of Gimmickry

SIN: Are you trying to make a quick emotional connection by putting all your eggs in the basket of nonsensical humor or high-intensity emotion?

SUCCESS: Or are you building emotional affinity around shared values – layering humor and emotional intensity on top of this solid foundation?

My first thought about the Cicilline ad (really, my second thought, my first thought was that the footage looks kinda bad) was that it didn’t earn the emotion it was seeking — telling stories about Cicilline coming to the aid of Rhode Islanders.  There were too many stories, and somehow they don’t resonate.  Reading the quote from Story Wars, it’s obvious to me now, this is another type of gimmick ad, though less obvious the the ones that rely on humor or some conceit. And to put it in the Story Wars framework, this ad is trying for high intensity emotion, but it’s not built on any foundation.

Look, I’m sure he helped all those people, and that’s great, but that’s his job isn’t it?  What makes these cases special or unique? Is Cicilline the kind of guy who goes out of his way to help people? Or is he an unpopular congressman, trying to bolster his image?

In some ways these ads show disrespect for the viewers. Look, all advertising is manipulative, but hopefully, it offers something more than the manipulation. The two olympic ads I showed yesterday earned their moment, when it gets dusty at the end of the Proctor and Gamble ad, it had worked to get me the viewer there, to get me invested in the story.

This ad, just those an old woman, a vet, a cancer survivor out there, trying to manipulate me without really having to try, it’s just going through the motions. They don’t invest in their story or characters, so I don’t invest my emotions in the spot. I’ve never thought of this emotional manipulation as a gimmick, but it is, and it fails big time here.

Be afraid… be very afraid.

January 23, 2012

I caught this ad yesterday by chance. At first I was intrigued, I thought the concept seemed neat and execution was well done.

That was of course till I got to the end….

You could cue the foghorn sound in my head. Come on now.

Maybe they polled this message before running it, but it seems incredibly tone deaf and off-emotion:

“American creativity and innovation are under attack” (by who China) and “Foreign criminals” (who, terrorists, chinese hackers).  No! the threat is people downloading movies and music illegally, what wait?

It’s big build up for such a… petty payoff. It feels way disingenuous, like a group of big executives came together and schemed, let’s make it about America and American ingenuity, yeah, that’s the ticket.  We’ll scare people into supporting SOPA, they don’t need to understand it (because if they did they’d probably be against it),  they’re easy marks.

Now I’m worked up.

This ad is insulting actually, it’s premise is that you can just scare folks into agreeing with you. To be honest it pisses me off, it’s the worst kind of cynical advertising, and despite the nifty graphics and cool execution it’s garbage.

Whatever the reasoning even if there is a more innocent rationale for the ad, I think it’ll be incredibly ineffective. I just can’t see this ad getting people worked up, it won’t resonate because it so obviously trying to make a mountain out of mole-hill, why should anyone care? Because of “foreign criminals”? Do they really want me to believe that the greatest threat to American innovation is online piracy? How about our industrial age model school systems, maybe we ought to start, huh.

Think of the same basic message, but maybe you have a below the line worker, a grip or gaffer talking about how piracy costs them money out of their pocket (I’ve had that argument made to me before by a gaffer).  That kind of personal connection might work, because it helps to make this big issue of piracy (who’s it really hurting, big movie studios) into something personal (it’s hurting regular guys and gals like Joe Gaffer).

But unless you have Michael Bay up there talking about how he’s leaving the movie business because he can’t make money anymore because of internet piracy…. Ok, even then it probably wouldn’t be believable.

All this hyperbole over online piracy, just misses the mark, either people don’t see it as stealing or if they do, they see themselves as Robin Hoods, fighting the good fight against big corporations. My guess is that the best argument to make is to make it personal (show the victim) or reframe piracy as stealing (which they do in those movie previews) and appeal to people’s better angels.  But this ad makes it all seem like an epic moral struggle of good v. evil, and it’s just not that in most people’s minds, sorry.

The only good news about this ad is the fact that it’s so bad, it’s a good bet that no one will want to illegally download it.


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