Posts Tagged ‘teleprompter’

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.

 

 

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And the Nominee is…

December 5, 2011

I was planning to just look at Rick Perry’s new ad today, but then Newt went ahead and released his first spot of the primary season, so it’s a twofer Monday here at Ad Nauseum.

I really liked this ad from Perry which basically takes ownership of his much discussed brain fart. It felt pretty authentic, and I think Perry does a good job delivering the lines. There’s not much else to the ad, the issue and positioning stuff is really just filler. I frankly can’t remember any of it —  I’ll always remember this as Perry’s apology ad, even though that’s only about half the ad. There’s a point to be made here: That you can’t cram too much into an ad, basically in :30 people will remember one or two elements. If you want them to remember more, then you can have one overarching theme, and the other elements need to connect to them, but even then, it’s the overarching theme that resonates with an audience.

The delivery is smooth, and not too forced, though I wouldn’t go so far to say natural. Still, I think Perry comes off as likable, and this ad could only help remind folks why they were so excited about Perry to begin with. My biggest question about the ad is the timing. I think this ad comes too late to really stem the damage from the debate. An ad like this a couple days after the debate mistake or possibly a week afterwards might have muted the criticism, and showed Perry as a likable guy who could good naturally admit mistakes.  Coming almost three weeks after the gaffe, I really wonder if audiences have moved on.

In the first 10-15 seconds of Newt’s first ad, I thought I was really going to like it. It’s exactly the kind of message I think a Republican should be using (talking about American exceptionalism in nostalgic and reverential tones). But after those first 15 seconds, the spot doesn’t really go anywhere except to Newt.

I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s so flat. I really like the images (the Marines marching, the hand on the amber waves of grain, the flags), so I don’t think it’s the visuals (except the weird cross fade from the Statue of Liberty).  I wonder if it’s the music which starts as emotional, but never builds or goes anywhere. Much like the spot, the music seems to meander, once it’s made it’s central point. The spot seems almost tamped down. I wonder if that was a deliberate choice?

Maybe they’re trying to play Newt against type, he’s known as being fiery, so we’ll play him calm and mellow. I’m not sure that really works here, even though I think the message is appealing to voters.

At the end of the day, I think voters will respond to this ad, it’s compelling enough, but just so.

 

Is it what you say or how you say it?

November 15, 2011

I watched this ad yesterday, the latest salvo in the Massachusetts senate race, and I knew I wanted to comment about it.  Watching it again today, it’s amazing how much I forgot about it, ok I’ll get to that later.

What I responded to in this ad was the message, Warren is unapologetically saying she’s a crusader against Wall Street, and she’s going to fight for the 99%.  What’s interesting is that she does it (unlike me) deliberately without invoking the language of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Of course, you all remember Crossroads GPS just attacked her for her liberal extremism as the intellectual underpinnings of that protest movement.

What I think Warren does successfully here is embrace the message without embracing the messenger.  She doesn’t run from who she is or her record, she doesn’t defend herself “before you hear a bunch of ridiculous attack ads” (which of course have already started), but rather issues a forceful statement of principles and values.

Alright, that’s 130 or so words in praise of this ad. When I first started this blog, I broke my reviews up into a form grade and a function grade, while I found that format too constraining and not ultimately helpful, I think it’s instructive here.  The function of this ad would be an A-, the form, on the other hand, being generous would be a C.

What I remember from the ad was the message: Warren fights Wall Street, which is a pretty good summation, but loses all of the detail and texture of the message. I loved the archival pictures, so vivid, but the text is kind of flat and at times falls into political cliche. The taking on the powerful interests message was lost on me until I re-watched the ad, her story had drifted away.

For a candidate who has capture so much support and excitement of voters, her delivery is alright, but not especially compelling. Was a scripted ad read off a teleprompter the best way to go here? I’ve never heard her speak, but I can’t help but think an interview ad going over the same message points, but spoken spontaneously would capture more of the real Warren. Here, I feel like I’m watching a candidate speak, the ad is well executed for what it is, but it’s not compelling in the least.

Warren wants to tell us who she is, but I feel watching this ad that she’s hiding behind a teleprompter and words written by a political consultant. I want more from her than this ad gives.

Again, maybe that’s not fair, maybe she stinks in an interview, but what the ad gives in message is lost in authenticity. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t believe Warren, I just don’t connect to her.)

If you averaged my earlier form grade C with the function grade A-, you end up about a B, and that’s where I’d put the ad, B/B-. It’s not a bad opening ad, certainly serviceable, but this blog isn’t about serviceable ads.  I’ve only really read about Warren in the book “Confidence Men,” by Ron Suskind, but she comes off as a compelling and intriguing figure there.  I can understand the excitement about her campaign, because I felt it too just from the little she’s in the book, she seemed genuine and passionate.

I don’t get that feeling here, or maybe I do, but it’s diluted.  Am I less excited about Warren now, no, but I’m a believer after all, am I more excited, not really. At the end of the day, this isn’t a bad ad, it’s right where it needs to be message wise, but I just felt the pieces were there for a great ad.

What’s wrong with this spot?

July 20, 2011

Dick Lugar is up with his new ad, trying to reach out to a party base that may have passed him by.

If they had come to me first and asked me what I thought, here’s how the conversation might have played out:

Me: “I like the last line, ‘a veteran fighting along side our new recruits, will help them….’ Do we need the ‘I’ll hope you agree before it?”

Them: “Well, [insert person’s name here, senator, staff, pollster, wife, donor] insisted that it be in there, makes him seem like a regular guy, you know?:

Me: “Ok, well it sounds kinda weak, when we want him to sound strong. Isn’t that the point of the spot? That’s he’s taken on this problems before, that’s he been toughened by age and experience? Now, why no music? It’s an interesting choice.”

Them: “Yeah, well we didn’t want to make it seem like a political commercial.”

Me: “Oh, you have a senator speaking directly to camera, but you didn’t want it to feel like a political commercial? Right now it feels really flat, music could help give an emotional frame to the spot.”

Them: “We didn’t want to seem like were trying too hard or being manipulative?”

Me: “Ok, well, to be honest the spot feels a little desperate right now, like Lugar is begging for support, it feels a little pandery [is that a word, pandering?]. And, well, what the word, the Senator, well, he comes off as kinda old looking. That’s what struck me the first time he’s on screen.”

Them: “Really? We had a special make-up artist who works with aging rock stars.” [That’s a true story, I used a make-up woman who’s specialty was aging rock stars, she used a spray gun to paint on the make up of an aging man running for office.]

Me: “Well he looks and sounds old, and he’s a little weirdly happy, when he should be more intense or something, again music would help….”

Them (looking increasingly like they want to leave): “Yeah. What else?”

Me: “What’s up with the Reagan shots.”

Them: “Conservatives love Reagan, Lugar worked with Reagan, therefore conservatives love Lugar. Get it?”

Me: “Yeah, well, the shots look dated, and make you realize that Lugar has been in office a long time. Who told him to smile the whole time? <Sigh>”

Them: “So basically, you think it’s emotionally flat, he smiles too much, looks old, and seems like he’s pandering?”

Me: “Exactly, and I just don’t buy it, feels like he’s trying to be something he’s not comfortable with.”

Them: “And that…”

Me: “Is that new, did I not say that before?”

Them: “No…”

Me: “Oh, ok, yeah it feels inauthentic too. Alright well, good first cut, let’s get back into the edit room and fix it.”

Well, it would have went something like that.

The final push

October 25, 2010

We’re entering that time when campaigns make that final push to the finish line.  One week left, what message do you want to leave with voters before they head into the voting booth (do folks still vote in booths).  Something positive about you? A vision for the future? The cost of electing the other guy?  In races where the margins are too large to make up, do you try to push your name id for the next campaign? These are tough choices to make, as the field of possibilities narrows to one last message, one last opportunity to make your case.

Meg Whitman goes with the honesty approach, a one minute plea, that is part humble admission that folks might not like here, part bio, part political platitude, part vision statement.  I have to say I find this ad compelling, in the same way (even as a Democrat) I’ve found Whitman compelling.  There’s an iconic part of her story, the family moving west, making her fortune at ebay, that speaks to me, and makes me like her.  I like the admission at the open that voters see this election as an unhappy choice, I appreciate her naming that elephant in the room, and trying to turn it around.  While I find the middle  section not as compelling (I’m not a politician), overall I like this ad, it is a simple expression of her and her candidacy.

Compare that with Harry Reid’s last message to voters, which I find kind of all over the place.  This ad feels like it’s trying to do too much.  Where the Whitman ad is all about an emotional appeal, this ad feels like its trying to get voters to vote in their own self interest, which frankly rarely works.  In some ways it’s a fitting end to the Reid campaign which has always been about brute force and attrition tactics. There’s nothing subtle about this ad, but I don’t know if there’s anything exceptional about it either.  At the end of the day, it leaves me cold, neither likely Angle any less nor liking Reid any more.

More from West Viginia

October 12, 2010

It’s a nice idea to counter the problems John Raese has run into by trying to hire actors to play West Virginians.

Too bad the ad looks like something produced in 1985.  From the bad backdrop to the flame wipes to the stilted read off the teleprompter. It’s a wasted opportunity to hit back, when you produce something that is so obviously inferior quality.  Third party validators are great, but if the production quality is not up to par, it effects how the ad is perceived.

True to yourself

September 30, 2010

With politicians (Democrats) running away from Health Care Reform like it was the plague, Russ Feingold embraces the best (most popular) elements of the health care plan, and attacks his opponent admonishing him “hands off my health care.”

While I think the ad is not a particularly good execution — I never like scripting real people, it can be hard for them to pull off the lines, and I’m not sure they do here.  I think it’s the right play.  Getting back to my last post, you have to be true to your values and who you are.  Feingold is doing that, and pushing back on his opponent at the same time, if he’s got any shot of winning this race, that’s the best strategy.

Using real people is smart because it’s not just politicians who appreciate health care reform.  Scripting the people takes some of that power away from the message, they’re a little stiff and they’re  indicating (as my mom used to say), but it works well enough I suppose, and it’s a bold play.

Play the reality

August 31, 2010

This is almost a good ad.  I like the concept at the open, but I don’t like the woman playing the “voter.” Maybe that’s my problem with her, she’s “playing” a voter, she’s so over the top, that the reality of the spot is lost. If she played the reality of the absurd moment, choosing a politician on a game show like the dating game, rather than playing the absurdity of the moment, I would like the spot better.  If she anchored me in the real, then I could suspend my disbelief for the surreal.

Also because she’s so over the top, when she reappears at the end with Lynch, I find the moment totally phoney.

I’m not sure about the cutting to Lynch either.  I guess I’m not sure if I believe he’s really fed up etc or if he’s just reading off a teleprompter.

Still, pretty good effort, and I think the ad might do a good job of framing the race, even if it’s not as effective as it could be.

Just one problem

August 16, 2010

I like the fact that they’re trying.  But I think there’s a problem, when the worst element of your ad is your candidate. Sink comes off as robotic and lifeless.  When the two guys fighting in the background are more interesting than the person talking in the foreground, well, you may want to rethink the ad.

Plain Vanilla

August 10, 2010

First ad up for Rep Charlie Melancon. The ad doesn’t do much for me, pretty vanilla. I get the message of it, which I think is fine, but not really impressed with him. The delivery is fine, but the ad seems transactional. It’s missing any emotional component that connects me to Melancon.

The ad leaves me cold or at the very least, leaves me feeling nothing, which is a problem in my book. The background and suit and tie aren’t helping him either, feels very formal.

It seems they were aiming for voters heads not their hearts, and even if they hit their mark they missed the target.


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