Posts Tagged ‘show don’t tell’

How to create a brand identity…

March 18, 2014

Funny thing about this ad is that it wasn’t made by Tesla. You should read the story here, but basically it was a bunch of college grads looking to break into advertising. They spend a grand total of $1500.

What I love about this ad, is that it totally gets the emotion right. It tells a story of wonder, of excitement, of innocence. There are a lot of reasons to buy a Tesla, but basically, they’re saying you buy it because its just plain cool. (Not because you want to be cool, but because its coolness excites you.) They tell you that in a story, no, that’s not right, they don’t tell you, they show it.

What’s more, I think they capture the truth about what makes Tesla cool. I’ve reviewed a bunch of ads recently that tell great brand stories, but when the company is revealed, it feels like a let down because what they’re saying doesn’t match the identity that brand holds in my mind. Maybe because these guys are outsider or beginners (there’s a whole zen concept of beginner’s mind) or really smart and talented or just really in tune with Tesla (probably some combination of all those things), they seem to hit the nail on the head.

I love the moment with the dad where he dons the cardboard helmet. This spot is what it means to be on-emotion & on-message.

They could have chosen to sell a product, all electric, zero to sixty, cutting edge, blah, blah, blah, instead they created a brand identity. That’s a much harder lift, but it works here because its authentic to the product, and these days, that might be more important than creativity. 

Advertisements

Sigh. Damn the torpedos.

August 12, 2013

So technically I’m on vacation, but I had to mention this ad because it just seems so… oblivious.

Two things struck me about this ad:

1. How similar in tone and content it is to the Spitzer ad(s).  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

2. Anthony Weiner just doesn’t get it. An ad that ignores what’s happened to him only reinforces the idea that he doesn’t get it, that’s he’s arrrogrant. The subtext of this ad is everything he’s trying to avoid. Instead of confronting his personal issues like Spitzer did in his first ad, Weiner uses the same tone and message, but without similar results.

You can say you get it all you want (which is essentially what Weiner is doing), but if telling people  you get it shows them that you don’t get it, well which story do you think wins?

Always leave room for milk… and the Audience

August 6, 2013

There’s something quirky about this spot that I like. I really like the line “Corey may be the frontrunner in this race, but he’s no progressive.” There’s an honesty to it that I think voters will appreciate.

Still I just can’t bring myself to love this spot. It’s one of those that ads that I’m ambivalent about — those are my favorite to write about. I write abou them because when I’m ambivalent, I usually can’t put my finger on what’s bothering me. Thats the case here.

Could it be the spot is a little too on the nose? Could it be the opening which is distinct (the scientist from Jeopary) but somehow akward (too self promoting maybe)? I don’t mind the middle issue section because those are a MacGuffin, a way for Holt to signal his values without saying he’s a progressive. But then they go ahead and say Booker’s not progressive and use progressive in the tag.

I guess I can see the potential of this spot (I’m a scientist, Booker’s the front runner but his story doesn’t match his values — do they match yours), but it doesn’t really reach it, and leave no room for the audience to put themselves in the spot, instead telling us what to think.

Being on-emotion

May 30, 2013

A friend sent this to me, with the following comment:

“Too long, but pretty awesome.”

I have to say, even though I could roughly guess what was coming from the intro (and what I know about Coke’s brand), I was still pretty moved in spite of myself.

Here’s yet another example of a video that tells the story of a brand. It doesn’t use facts and figures, doesn’t just tell us we’re all the same whether you’re Indian or Pakistani, it shows it. The joy of the people engaged in the video is both obvious and contagious.

Does Coke taste better than pepsi? Is it cheaper? Is it healthier than other drinks? Probably not (well except on the taste issue), but next time I’m in the super market I’m going to smile when I see that coke display. Maybe that means next time a Coke executive is testifying on the HIll about sugar in soft drinks or selling to kids, I might be more inclined to believe him because I like the brand.

That’s the power of an emotion, and it’s a power that “facts” can’t hope to challenge.

Beware your friends

April 9, 2013

If you longed for the good old day of negative advertising.

If you’ve said gosh they don’t make ’em like they used to….

Then this negative ad attacking Christine Quinn in the New York Mayor’s race is for you.

Gosh, from the music the effects to the overbearing narrator, this ad felt like it should be running in the 90’s. Negative ads have come a long since then, using more pointed attacks, humor, and just generally not being so overwrought with the negativity. Does the ad have some good points to make, it sure seemed like it. The quotes were all good and tough, but instead of letting the evidence speak for itself, the creators of this ad tried really hard to let you know, these were bad things (as if we couldn’t tell for ourselves).

The problem is that there’s no room for the viewer in an ad like this. They’re telling instead of showing, they’re making statements instead of asking the question. It’s a classic blunder, the first of which is never get in a land war in SE Asia, and the second is never go up against a Scillian with death on the line.

The ultimate question then is this: Does this ad help or hurt? How could it hurt? As an outside group, coming in attacking the only woman in the race, does it seem too mean spirited? Are they injecting important information into the race or are they beating up on Quinn? Again, I don’t question the validaty of their attack, just the tone. The ad is tone deaf. Better to give the quotes straight then ask the question. (Shaking my head).It’s clear the people making it hated Quinn, but it’s too clear, it seems personal, like they want New Yorkers to hate Quinn as much as they do.

To the extent that this ad sticks and the information gets through it’ll be effective. To the extend that it is seen as too negative or just plain mean spirited, it’ll backfire.

 

Four for Friday: The Subtle and the petty

March 30, 2012

Been traveling this week for work, so it’s been tough to post. Today is a hodgepodge of ads, I came across this week.

First up Chrysler’s followup to “Halftime in America”:

I thought the ad did a great job of re-framing the halftime in America message that started with Clint Eastwood at the Super Bowl. If that ad was a 50,000 ft view, this one is closer to ground level. It tells the story, without telling the story, if you know what I mean. I just read this list of writing tips from the great screenwriter Billy Wilder. The two rules that seem to apply here are:

5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.

And,

7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.

This ad is very subtle, it never reveals the subtext, and I think it’s better for it.

The next ad up was sent to me by a friend:

I like the tone of the ad, and I think it does a nifty job of making it’s political points without sounding (or looking) too political. The ad is well shot too, with lots of pretty pictures. It makes something that could have been dry interesting, so it scores points there too.

My only objection to the ad, is the whole “Your friend Ben” theme.  Maybe it’s how folks already see Cardin, but it feels a little forced. I guess it’s better than a more traditional, “that’s because Ben Cardin cares…” or “Ben Cardin is on our side…” line, but not sure I buy it, in an ad that I generally buy.

Alright, ad number three comes from the Republicans:

Don’t love this ad/video for a number of reasons:

1. Not sure how folks will feel about using audio from the Supreme Court. Usually the Supreme court is above politics, pulling in Lawyer’s arguments seems debasing somehow, but maybe that’s just me.

2. The quote feels lacking context. So, the lawyer had a brain fart, but does that make healthcare a tough sell? Not sure I get the connection? Maybe if we heard a question asking him to describe what the health care law does or some other reference, but right now it just seems like a guy who lost his train of thought.

3. Who cares? I mean, yes we ought to care about health care, but what I mean is, hitting Obama for health care now seems like hitting Clinton for having affairs, haven’t we played this out already?

Maybe as an ad that gets the base angry this works.  The fact that it only had 400 hits on youtube (and I’ve watched it twice), makes me think it’s pretty ineffective.

Finally, an ad that’s about as simple a repines as they come. In one of those petty (and dumb) political moves, opponents of Jose Hernandez are asking a judge to stop him from describing himself as an Astronaut. 

Hernandez answers quite eloquently in this one minute long video:

Is there a more clear example of show don’t tell? This response is a also a great example of political aikido. Whatever a judge decides, the fact that opponents are arguing he’s not an astronaut, this video response will cement the fact that he did indeed fly in space. At once a response like this makes the opponents seem small minded and Jose Hernandez never has to break message to do it, that sounds like a win in my book.

Real Magic

March 12, 2012

When I was in college, I quickly realized something about the class I took.  My best classes, the ones I was most interested in, the ones that I worked the hardest in, the ones, I remember today, weren’t always the most interesting topics. Sure some of them were right in my interest wheel house, but many of them were subjects I never really cared much about then or since.  Conversely, the worst classes were often in topics I was sure I’d love.  What separated the bad from the good, the boring from the interesting was the quality of the teacher.

The best teachers made subjects (like English History 1600-1658) fascinating and relevant.

I bring that up in the context of this new ad from Jessie Jackson Jr.

On the face of it, it should be compelling, it should be heartbreaking, it should move me to outrage…, but it doesn’t. The spot is flat emotionally. Now, I know a mom telling the story of her son gunned down on the way to choir practice is inherently powerful, but it’s not. That first line “I’m Pam Bosley, my son is dead…” should grab you and make you sick, but it doesn’t.

I’m not blaming the mom, who has obviously gone through a tragedy no parent should ever have to face.  It takes courage to get on camera and speak about it.  I blame the consultant.  It appears that she’s reading a teleprompter, repeating words from rote rather than telling her own tragic tale.  Then to make matters worse, they have her spouting political blah, blah, blah about there opponent (the highlight of the ad is actually the phone of Debbie Haverston behind Jesse Jackson with that awful expression on her face).

I saw a quote from a screenwriter that said if the answer is 4, write 2+2.  Unfortunately the script here gives us 4.  There’s no room for the audience in this ad either emotionally or intellectually. Instead of bringing us into the story they hold us at arm’s length.

“A million deaths is a statistic. One death is a tragedy.”

By the time she says, don’t let my son die in vain, we should be heartbroken…. I read a great line about Jeremy Lin, the Knicks point guard, who came from no where to dazzle the NBA — a reporter said the true story of Jeremy Lin was “about how in a society full of nonsense and noise, of fizz and vapour, of pretty colours and manufactured products, we ache for real magic.”

This ad has the potential for real magic but instead they gave us more nonsense and noise.

 

 

What more do you want?

March 1, 2012

If you follow my twitter feed, I mentioned how much I loved this ad. I was going to leave it at that, but a friend of mine has been encouraging me to blog more (guess they don’t follow Twitter), so here goes:

I loved this ad.  First of all it’s a great execution of a good concept. The production values are top notch, but more than that, they really trust the concept, going all the way, and allowing the concept to speak for the brand.  They show the values of the Guardian rather than have a narrator who tells you, “The Guardian, the whole picture — our voice and yours…” or some other bullet point.

The details are nicely done as well from the copy (the police raid yelling “little pig, little pig let us in”) to the way they inter-weave the story between web, headlines, user commentary, to the graphics — seriously this is top notch stuff.

Also, its both telling a compelling story, but maybe more importantly a familiar story with a twist. Using the three little pigs is a clever way to spiral out a story we’ve all seen before — the crime, the commentary, the reaction and counter-reaction, the eventual fallout to larger issues.

Storytelling.

Show don’t tell.

Great execution.

What more do you want from an ad?

Gimmicks

February 29, 2012

I came across the new JC Penny ads today.  Usually JC Penny wouldn’t really hold much interest for me, but Ron Johnson, the new CEO of JC Penny was the man who designed and ran the Apple Stores is remaking JC Penny.

I liked these ads. Using Ellen is a bit of a MacGuffin, she brings attention to the brand, but also her association lends some character to a brand that’s really nondescript — what does JC Penny stand for anyway? Are they design oriented like Target? Or cheap like Wal-Mart?  What’s their story.

These ads are gimmicky and entertaining, but I think it serves a purpose beyond attention — it signals a new direction for JC Penny. By focusing on four different areas — returns, coupons, sales and $.99 pricing, they show the new direction.  They could have just run ads saying, JC Penny, no coupons, easy returns, blah, blah, blah. Instead they indicate the new direction, a sense of putting customers first, a sense of caring about customers in way that other stores don’t, a sense that they understand our frustrations (and in that sense Ellen as the “every women” is a perfect choice for a brand spokesperson).

My only quibble would be are they JC Penny branded enough? Meaning, do you watch the ads and know it’s a JC Penny ad without the fanfare?  But still, I think these are really well done, entertaining and on-emotion, good job.

Here’s another gimmick ad:

I liked the way they based the ad on a real stunt — that kind of coordination is great in a campaign.  The hurdles are clever a way to make it clear the attack on women’s health. A minute ad might seem like a luxury, but I thought it was nice that they took their time, let the viewer take in the stunt, the meaning of the hurdles and some of the message, without forcing it on us.

The ad kinda doesn’t know where to go after it introduces the stunt, so it loses some steam (there are a lot of shots of people looking at the hurdles, that I’m not sure if they’re helping), but it’s a solid B+/A-.

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.


%d bloggers like this: