Posts Tagged ‘Response’

Dueling ads – The Republican Presidential Primary

February 17, 2012

In sports there’s something called a challenge trade — when two teams trade underperforming players at the same position.  Romney and Santorum are engaged in something of a challenge air war.  Romney err, Restore our Future is up attacking Santorum, trying to undermine Santorum’s conservative street cred.

The ad is pretty mediocre, basically a message delivery device without much creativity. But the point is to try and muddy the waters and subvert Santorum’s message that he’s the real conservative — would the “right” choice really vote <gasp> to raise the debt limit? If Romney’s not a man of the people, then neither is Santorum the “Ultimate washington insider.” If I was grading the ad, I would probably say it’s about a C or C+ if I was feeling generous. There’s nothing really wrong about it,but there’s nothing compelling or interesting.  Actually not sure why they include the Romney stuff, it’s not really catchy

Santorum on the other hand is running a pretty interesting ad with an interesting strategy behind it. It’s a gimmick ad, but the gimmick works because it reinforces the message. “Rombo” is on the lose shooting mud at Santorum.  It’s actually a pretty clever concept, and they certainly go all the way with it, down to an actor who looks like Romney.  I like the concept the execution is good, but not great, but I think the strategy behind it is just as clever.

Rombo also is subtlety subversive — Romney isn’t the tough conservative he plays on TV (Rambo), but some kind of phony “Rombo” shooting a mud in a white shirt and tie. It’s a slight jab, but  the subtext might be more effective at capturing the anti-Romney malaise that Republican primary voters are feeling than the text.

Santorum can’t compete with Romney’s cash advantage (I saw it as at least 3:1). This ad is trying to functionally dislocate Romney’s advantage — it’s not an unusual strategy, but well played in this case. The hope is to remind voters of Romney’s negatives every time you see a Romney ad attacking Santorum. While, I’m not a fan of the ultimatum approach at the end, I still think given the execution of the ad it could be effective in helping to blunt Romney’s advantage.

By wrapping the message around such an entertaining and off-beat concept, Santorum might be able to poison Romney’s negative ads.

The easy winner this round is Santorum.  The only question is can Santorum continue to move and out flank Romney.

Hail to the chief

January 20, 2012

The president is up with his first ad.

When my wife forwarded me this ad, she added the comment that it seemed odd for a first ad.  Watching it, I have to agree.  You expect the first ad of the President to be bigger, more grand, more sweeping. Instead this ad is a small response ad on energy independence (not exactly a burning issue these days) — it feels more procedural rather than grand, more tactical than strategic.

Stepping back, I tried to think through the strategy behind leading with this ad.  My best guess is that this ad is setting up the message and themes of the campaign. Much in the same why a pitcher might setup his fastball by first throwing a change-up, I believe this ad is intended to prime the electorate.

1) The ad frames the race as Obama v. Billionaires. 

With super-pac spending out of control in the Republican primary, this ad is a shot across the bow, that Obama isn’t going to take it lying down. It also frames the race for the electorate, who are you going to believe Obama or secretive oil billionaires who are “not tethered to the facts”?

It also dovetails nicely with the theme that Obama is on the side of the middle class, while Romney has secretive oil billionaires on his side.  Who’s side do you want to be on in that fight?

2) Show that Obama is not just another politician.

It’s not about ethic or energy independence per se, those are macguffins for the real message: That he’s honest and he’s accomplished things other than health care and fighting over  budgets.

3) He already is seen as flash, this ad shows some substance.

We’ve seen Obama talking eloquently to huge crowds, we’ve felt the passion and flash. This ad is about the substance, the hard work of governing.

This ad stands as a good example of the kind of trench level ad that’s part of a larger ad campaign. It frames the story for independent voters, and injects itself into the narrative (responding to attacks against the president). On it’s own it’s pretty humdrum (and it feels like they cram one line too many into it), but as part of a larger more long term campaign it starts to make sense.

Attack and Counter in Kentucky

October 18, 2010

In this race, Conway is down, but not an insurmountable amount, but time is running out.  They can go back and forth or they can try for the big play, swing for the fences, knock out blow, pick your favorite sports analogy here. Well, they sure went for it.

I have to appreciate the fact that they didn’t sugar coat, didn’t back down, didn’t try to hide behind a euphemism, but damned this is an ugly ad, for it’s look as much as it’s content. The ad is so extreme in it’s claim, that it’s hard for me to judge how effective it’ll be.

To me, it feels like it’s trying real hard, almost too hard.  Desperate might not be the right word…, I think the word I’m looking for is pandering. Hey Kentucky, you’re Christians, well Rand Paul he’s not or maybe he’s not, see don’t you hate him now, huh, please, right?  (Eyebrows making exaggerate pleas.)

There’s no formula to these things, but I believe that the harder and more outrageous the claim, the softer you ought to sell it. This ad is an 11 on the claim scale, and a 9 on the political negative cliche scale.

Josh Marshall said, “It registered for me as somewhere between a hokey Tea Party ad and an SNL spoof.” It’s never a good thing when your hard hitting negative looks like a spoof of an ad. In the whole form supporting function, it just doesn’t add to the credibility of the ad.

It’s one thing to make the decision to air the attack, but the manner it was aired makes it feel clumsy and desperate, a more refined ad, might have overcome that problem.

Paul countered with this ad stating, “He has Christ in his heart,” and that Conway is “[bearing] false witness” against him.

The response to Conway’s attack makes me wonder if Paul didn’t feel vulnerable to it. Seems like overkill to say you both have “Christ in your heart” and he’s bearing false witness again you, but I’m from Kentucky, and I’m not the one who’s had my christianity questioned.  Obviously that last line is a not too subtle attempt to invoke biblical language.  Again feels like pandering to me, “See Kentucky, I can say things like bear witness and smite, so I must be Christian….” Ok he doesn’t say “smite” but maybe he should have.

The response is pretty cliche (other than false witness which you don’t hear very often these days), dark grayed out shots of Conway, his lips flapping hard edged newpaper headlines to accentuate their point (though the script ads the line “gutter politics at its worse,” which isn’t a quote as far as I can tell).  This ad isn’t as over the top as the original ad, but if Boris were here he might say, “Rand,… check yourself…..”

So who wins this round? Both ads are pretty lame, so as far as form goes, it’s a draw.  The Conway ad feels a little cheaper, the Paul ad cleaner and slicker, but neither one distinguishes themselves.

So if it comes down to function, I’ll give the win to Conway on the technical point that they raised the issue, and it seems that’s what folks are talking about with two weeks left in the campaign.  Maybe it backfires, maybe it doesn’t work, but it’s not what Paul wants to be talking about that’s for sure.

Live by the sword

August 4, 2010

I showed the Romanoff ad the other day, here comes the Bennett response. I think it’s pretty effective. Using the newspaper as a third party validator is particularly effective here, since the language is so harsh.

This ad isn’t pretty and it’s a pretty standard setup (the rebuttal, the truth, the choice), but I hate it when the quotes become closed captioning as CG, what’s the point?  Even in an ad like this, when you have great quotes, I think it would be better to have the CG’s and the voice over in sync but not repeating.

I have to say Romanoff had it coming. When you start playing with the truth to such a degree that the leading paper in the state says it is “cynical politics,” then you’ve gone way too far.

And we’re off

July 27, 2010

That was fast, they probably had these ads ready and waiting. Instead of responding to the Meek attacks with a defense (and really what would the defense be, I didn’t make that much money when I ruined the economy), Greene goes on the attack.

While neither ad really grabs me, I think they do enough to muddy the waters.  Meek comes off as a corrupt politician.  Now, I think if Meek’s original attack had landed, he wins this round. It’s a good lesson, just because you throw a punch doesn’t mean you’re going to hit someone.   The problem for Meeks is that Greene’s checkbook is unlimited, if he goes toe to toe with him, he’s going to lose.

The Greene ads are good enough, well produced, but not really standout.

Because this round is a draw, it’s really a win for Greene.


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