Posts Tagged ‘simple’

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.

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Final Push Potpourri

November 1, 2010

First off, no idea that’s actually how you spelled potpourri, would not have guessed it in a million years.

A two minute closing ad from Rubio has some people thinking he’ll run for President.  I can see that from this ad, he’s good to camera, feels authentic and compelling, and the ad has an epic sweep, it’s not just about Florida, but about America, it’s not about issues, but about a philosophy.  Two minutes seems a bit indulgent, but when you’re up big in your campaign, you can take a 50,000 foot view of things.

I don’t talk about script all that often, but the strength of this ad is it’s script.  Yes, Rubio is very good, and a lesser candidate would flounder with the sweep and narrative, but this ad gives Rubio stature without making him appear overly ambitious or pompous. It has him stake a position without him being political.  It all starts on the page, and if it isn’t on the page, it won’t appear on the screen.  The more I watch this ad, the more I like it, simple and elegant, it’s form matches the function.

On the other side of the coin you have this line, “Harry Reid working for us, Sharron Angle pathological.” Can’t help but laugh even as I write it down.  This is exactly the kind of ad I really dislike (is hate too strong a word).  It’s jammed packed, the last line isn’t bad, but it’s so rushed it feels almost like a parody of a political ad.

Going back to script, do they really need the first seven seconds of this ad? Can’t they just say, a newspaper called her pathological, that she’s lying, blah, blah…. They don’t really connect running away from reporters its a macguffin that’s not particularly useful or satisfying. While I usually like using newspapers as validators, here it almost gets lost, the impact of that word “pathological” never gets to settle because the script is on to the next line.

I’m never a big fan of using your spouse or kids in an ad unless they really have something to ad.  Exhibit A is this ad from Rand Paul. Yes, he has a pretty wife, but of course she’s going to be shilling for him, she’s married to him.  I know the rationale for using her, it shows Paul in a softer light, it makes him seem human in the light of the Aqua Buddha stuff.

Still compare this ad to the Rubio ad, which one conveys a better sense of the person? Which one tells a better story, which one is more compelling both in philosophical terms and in the epic scope.  Yes, Rubio had more time to talk, but if you gave Mrs. Paul another minute and a half, don’t think it would make a huge difference as she feels contrived whether she actually is or not.

It’s drivel, it was probably drivel on the page, and it sounds like drivel on the screen.

Final Push Connecticut

October 26, 2010

This ad came out about a week ago, and it got lost in the shuffle of my day job.

I think this is a very powerful, very moving ad.  McMahon feels authentic and honest in it. It’s not complicated design wise, it doesn’t have to be does it?

My only issue with this ad is how it fits in with the rest of her campaign? I haven’t seen all the McMahon ads, but this one feels like a new piece of information for voters, it shows her as passionate and caring in a way I don’t think they have before.  With two weeks left in the campaign (when the ad started to air), that’s a huge piece of information for voters to work into their story of who Linda McMahon is — business woman, WWE CEO, rich,…caring and passionate?  The problem is it’s not the last piece of information that sticks with folks, its the pieces of information that fill in their stories, the stories we all create for our candidates (and for us and the “why” we chose the candidates we do).

It’s a good ad, but I think this story has already been written.

Sometimes the best ads

August 4, 2010

Come while you’re watching TV. The summer months are where I watch the least TV, and I realized today that I was missing seeing the ads I usually catch on prime time.  Tonight watching a re-run of one of my favorite Next Generation episodes, I caught this ad:

Maybe it’s because I’m a dad, but I loved the simplicity of this ad. I’m not sure it’ll make me buy a subaru, but I enjoyed the story telling, the way is sucks you in with the unexpected, even the punchline isn’t overdone. In fact one of the things I really appreciate about the ad is the acting is well done both by the dad and the young girl, it’s not overplayed.

It’s also the kind of ad that plays well on paper. One thing I’ve learned with concept ads is this: If it doesn’t work on paper, it won’t work on the screen.

BTW, the ad also follows Dan Heath’s three rules that I listed in this post.

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.

When enough is enough…

August 12, 2009

Sometimes it’s enough to deliver a message.

You don’t want the ad to get in the way of the message.

I think this ad does a good job with that. It’s not innovative or particularly interesting, except in its simplicity. It doesn’t try too hard or give the usual negative political ad tricks (harsh music, “loud” graphics, a hard voice attacking, I even expected the backwards footage given it’s called “Backwards Bob,” and was pleasantly surprised not to get it). I think it’s better because it keeps it low key and matter of fact.

As an audience member I get the point, but I’m not hit over the head with it.

I also think it’s interesting because it’s a one minute ad on choice — when was the last time you saw that? Of course Virginia has an interesting history of choice and governor’s races.

In a political campaign, sometimes you need cavalry riding to the rescue, sometimes you need infantry in the form a solid message delivery.


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