Posts Tagged ‘paint by numbers’

A good story should connect the dots

May 8, 2013

Last time Terry McAufliffe ran for governor he lost the primary. I think I looked at his ads back then and thought they looked inauthentic.

He’s running again, no primary this time, are his ads any better?

This is one of those ads that tries to connect the dots, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to walk away thinking. I thought the first part about where he talks about starting a business was interesting, but then it veers into family and creating jobs. I’ve been slowly re-reading the classic book “Made to Stick.” In the chapter on Simple (one of the rules of SUCCESS), the say (wisely) that if you say three things you aren’t saying anything.

That’s kinda how I feel about this ad. It’s sort of a broad brush paint by numbers approach, that pretends to tell you something but really doesn’t say anything particularly interesting. They hit all the highlights for me, but don’t really tell me a story that puts all the pieces together. Is he a hard worker? Self starter? Family guy? How exactly does he know (other than a poll) that Viriginia wants good jobs? A good story can create a framework, something to unify those elements. A good story can be told either in the text or subtext, but this ad does neither, so I’m left just watching a bunch of blah, blah, blah.

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It’s on the screen

February 29, 2012

You know I once sat next to Tommy Thompson at a dinner, didn’t know who he was till he introduced himself, for the life of me I don’t remember his lips being so red.  In fact, I can’t remember an ad I’ve watched where a candidates lips have stood out so much. Not sure if his lips really are that red or it’s some kind of make-up malfunction — sorry digression.

What really struck me about this ad was how flat it was. There was no energy to the spot. Even the shots of him listening to people, he looks cranky.

Whether or not these Thompson felt comfortable with these words or he was really happy to be listening to the people in the spot, I can’t answer those question. Boris used to say, “Guys, your work is on the screen,” when a director would try to explain why a shot wasn’t working or an actor’s performance was off. What he meant was an audience doesn’t know or shouldn’t care  about all the time and trouble that went into a shoot, they don’t care about the obstacles overcome or the problems that plagued you, all they can judge you by is what’s on the screen.

By that standard, I question the decision to run this ad.  I don’t care what the plan is, if it’s not working, you have to be able to adjust.  I don’t see how putting Thompson to camera, looking grumpy and sounding uncomfortable helps sell his campaign message or convey the the emotion he wants voters to feel. Honestly, I was so distracted by what was going on, that I didn’t even hear the words until the third of fourth time I watched the ad. And, when I did hear them, they didn’t resonate at all, there was no conviction behind them, so why should I believe them at all.  The ad felt very paint by numbers, like they were all just going through the motions, I don’t blame Tommy Thompson for that, I blame his consultants.

 


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