Posts Tagged ‘quotes’

Ok not so fast

January 22, 2010

In my research for my last post, I came across a Scott Brown ad and a Martha Coakley ad, and I just fel the contrast was too great for me to ignore.

It’s not a matter of the issues they discussed, though I the Brown ad I remember (despite my bias against the Republican) and the Coakley ad, well I have no idea what she said, I had to watch it again to get the point.  A big part of that is connection and emotion. Watch those two ads who do you connect with?  Who is more authentic?

I’m not saying Coakley has to be charismatic or exciting, but she needs to come off as real, like she’s not just reading a script, like she cares at least. But that’s how I feel watching the ad, like she’s just reading a script, like she’s going through the motions.  She may be  great at her job but not so great at reading to camera, then why is she reading to camera?

The great manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Earl Weaver said something like, “Good managers put players in roles they can succeed in.”  Well, a consultant should put their politicians in roles they can look good in, roles in which they can connect with voters.  Brown does that in spades.  I disagree with him, and still find his ad compelling.

I’m not saying national trends don’t matter, or if health care was more popular the result would have been different (for a great analysis read Nate Silver’s breakdown), but what I am saying is that the ads matter.  Watching only two ads it’s clear that Scott Brown connected with voters, that he came across as authentic and real, and Martha Coakley lack those qualities, and that as much as anything is why she lost.

Library Day

June 12, 2009

Maybe Library Day will become a weekly feature.

Oh, what is Library Day?  Well, it’s the day when I recommend a book I think is interesting or helpful in creating great political advertising.

The first book I’m going to recommend is, “Hey Whipple Squeeze This.”

There are a lot of books that litter the bookshelf closest to where I work.  Those are the special books, the books that regardless of topics, I go back to again and again. Sometimes a books come and go off the shelf depending on what I’m interested in at the time, but there are a core that stay right there: “Hey Whipple” is one of those books. (For those of you paying attention, I’ve already quoted from it at least twice on this blog.)

Its subtitled “A Guide to Creating Great Ads,” and that’s exactly what it is.  Filled with observations, tips, stories and examples, it really is the one book on advertising that anyone interested in the craft should read.    What I really like is that Sullivan writes in an engaging tone, and he offers advice that gives you a good theoretical grounding (“Rule #1 in producing a great TV commercial. First you must write one”) while also being eminently practical (“Write sparely,” which is particularly good advice to political ad makers who tend to cram as much copy into “30” second spots as they can; you’ve never seen a grown man cry till you try to get a voice talent read 36 seconds of copy in 30).

The book breaks down advertising into print, TV and radio, then ends with some trouble shooting stories and advice (“Peck to death by ducks”).

And the title? It refers to the Charmin ads which dominated the 70’s.  For those of you too young to remember, Mr Whipple was the cranky grocery store clerk who admonished buyers, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin,” while himself fighting his own squeezing demons.  Mr. Whipple had the distinction of being both the most remembered character on tv and the most reviled.  Sullivan points to the campaign as a cautionary tale of overwhelming the airwaves with ads that aren’t very good can produce results, but, well I’ll let him speak for himself, “What troubles me about Whipple is that he isn’t good. As an idea, Whipple isn’t good….To those who defend the campaign based on sales, I ask would you also spit on the table to get my attention? ”

Ultimately the book is a call to smart,  elegant, and creative advertising because spitting on the table demeans not only those doing the spitting (the consultants or ad execs) but those who they’re spitting for (the business or candidates).  Even if you win, you don’t win.

For that message alone, the book is a perfect choice for my first library day.

Review: Chris Dodd Fighting Back for Us

June 2, 2009

This may be the first ad in the 2010 election season.  If you’re an incumbent US Senator running an election ad in May, a year and a half before the election, well, it doesn’t take a pollster to know you’re in trouble.  According to Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com, this is number 3 on the list of seats most likely to change parties and number one among incumbents.  That’s quite a feat.  Nate finishes his analyisis with, “the important thing about Rob Simmons is not that he’s Rob Simmons, but that he’s not Chris Dodd.”

That’s interesting in light of the ad, an ad for Chris Dodd, about Chris Dodd, in which Chris Dodd hardly appears.  Even when he does appear, it’s in a group shot alongside President Obama.

Form (on a scale A-F): B-

Nothing really compelling about the form, it’s a pretty standard-issue political ad.  They did a nice job of making the stills interesting; adding the black and white to the end gives those images a sense of weight and importance — not inventing the wheel, but nicely done, nonetheless.  Pretty moves on the pictures.  I like that they didn’t try to cram too many shots into the spot and kept the pacing nice and easy.

Still, it’s striking that Dodd hardly appears in the ad, and when he does, he’s not front and center.  Between Obama and the woman in pink (Rep. Carolyn Maloney), it’s hard to find Dodd in that group shot.  I think that was deliberate.

Function (on a scale A-F): Incomplete

Is it a cop-out to say time will tell?  The ad is an obvious attempt to re-position Dodd: look he’s with Obama! You like Obama, Obama said his name, he helps people and fights big mean credit card companies, you don’t like them.  Get it?

The only 2 pictures of Dodd show him in a group with Obama in the center.  Dodd’s part of the Obama team.  You might be angry with him, but Obama needs him — Obama says that in his Dodd shout out, and it’s reinforced in the visual.

Final Grade (on a scale A-F): B-

Can one ad undo the damage that has been done to Dodd’s reputation?  Probably not.  Fortunately for Senator Dodd, it’s early enough in the election cycle that it doesn’t have to carry all the water in one audio-visual package.  This ad is the first of many to come.

A new study published in Advertising Age says “Though most campaigns cluster ads in a short period of time, consumers retain information better if it’s spaced out over longer intervals.” (Their emphasis.)  If this is the first of a long series of ads reframing Dodd, it’s probably a modest success.  If Dodd can continue to avoid the kind of special treatment stories that got hin into trouble, then this story can help smooth over the damage done and remind people why they voted for Senator Dodd over and over again.

This ad is also a good reminder that its hard to judge an ad out of the context of the campaign. If Dodd wins next November (assuming he makes it out of a primary), nobody will remember this ad, but ti probably played some small role in changing the Dodd story from a Seantor who’s out for himself to a Senator who is fighting for folks.  In that way, its kinda like the grunts on the ground in a war, doing its duty to the best of its ability, but part of a larger effort.

Welcome to Ad Nauseum

April 16, 2009

Welcome to Ad Nauseum. For a blog about political video and ads, that’s not such a creative welcome. Hopefully it’ll get better from here.

The story how this blog was inspired goes something like this: I was having lunch with a friend of mine last week discussing my new company, Rabin Strasberg Media, and what I thought we could add to the glut of political media.  In the course of our conversation, discussing videos and ads we liked and disliked, he said something like, “You know, you should write a blog about this stuff.”

My first reaction was, who would read a blog that I wrote?  Well, my mom — except she doesn’t even know that the internet is a series of tubes.  So I put that aside for a moment.

Then I thought, what would I say? Well, that part was a lot easier; I always have something to say about what I see out there — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and there’s a lot of ugly out there these days.

A last note: I’m not here to rip on people or their work, though I will certainly give an honest critique. Frankly, I want to be inspired, I want to be moved by what I see, but all too often I’m left either empty or shaking my head. Maybe this is my attempt to raise the craft of political media, to make ads everyone can be proud of.

I read this quote in the wonderful book on advertising, “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This.” Steve Hayden, who wrote the Apple 1984 ad, said, “If you want to be a well paid copywriter, please your client. If you want to be an award winning copywriter, please yourself. If you want to be a great copywriter, please your reader.”

Greatness is something we can all aspire to.


%d bloggers like this: