Posts Tagged ‘third party validator’

Wow… this worked. Why? (Dawn Dish Detergent Ad)

July 8, 2013

Watching TV this afternoon, I was caught by surprise by this commercial:

Wow, it was so simple it worked. Dish detergent is pretty much a commodity. I buy the one that smells good (or I think will smell good) or is in a neat bottle. But otherwise I usually don’t think much about it.

After watching this commercial I’m buying Dawn.

Commercials make all sorts of claims all the time, we’re used to it. Unless the brand has some internal credibility, we usually slough it off or we need a third party validator. Well this ad uses a pretty powerful 3rd party validator — I mean we’ve all seen those pictures of the cute animals covered in oil and wondered if they could get cleaned up… well they can with Dawn!

Maybe as much as the validation, this Dawn ad speaks to my story of the consumer I want to be. I can buy something as mundane as dish soap, and be helping the environment? That’s me I love the environemnt.

Ok, so maybe the ad is trying a little too hard to tug at the heartstrings you know what? Next time I go to Target to buy my dish soap, I’m reaching for the Dawn.

 

Let the message speak.

June 6, 2012

Obama is up with another attack on Mitt Romney.

I think this is a good ad and an even better attack. The ad itself is simply executed, but has some nice graphic touches (like the graph lines rising up in the columns of the Mass Capitol, the way they pull the quote from the editorial and the way they scroll the list of states to #47).  I think the simplicity shows a good touch with the material, letting it speak for itself.

In lieu of some alternative information, the attack seems pretty damning — Romney did a horrible job with the Massachusetts economy.  As the opening and closing quotes show, this goes to the heart of the rationale for voting for Romney — his record.  This strategy is a nice bit of political aikido turning your opponent’s strength and energy against them. That’s the real power of this ad, it succeeds at the strategic level because it calls into question the foundation of Romney’s experience and appeal.

That attack works because they stick to the “facts” using editorials and statistics without commenting too much on those objective descriptors of Romney’s performance. I’ve written before that sometimes an ad needs to just get out of it’s own way, and this is a good example of that.  The message is the thing here, if they had tried to do too much with it, they could risk losing that powerful message in the barrage of the messenger.

Reinforcing the “truth”

May 15, 2012

Truth gets thrown around a lot in politics. What’s true? What’s not true? I read an interesting book recently “Storybranding,” that has something important to say about how we ought to think about truth.

In the book, the author talks a little about truth, but he divides truth into big “T” Truth and little “t” truth.  Put more succinctly by Robert McKee, “What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens.”  The author then says, “Stories don’t create our beliefs. Rather, their themes are like magnets that find and attach themselves to beliefs that already exist.” (Story Branding, p. 215)

That leads to this ad by President Obama.

The execution of the ad is solid enough, nothing earth shaking. I do like the juxtaposition (in college, I tried to use that word in every paper I wrote, might be the greatest word… ever) of Romney’s quotes, how he cares about workers and the like, and the worker’s bitting comments comparing Bain and Romney to vampires. That part was pretty effective.

But I think more important than the elements of the ad itself are the theme it presents. The Obama campaign is working on creating a meme regarding Romney. Here’s the brilliant thing, and it gets to the the reason for my quotes, Obama is only reinforcing the narrative people already have in their minds about Romney.

The idea that Romney is an elite rich guy, who can’t understand working people. I don’t know if that account is factual or not, but given our definitions above, I think it’s pretty true. Take a look at this previous ad:

Again pretty standard stuff except for the last snarky line “That’s what you’d expect from a guy with a swiss bank account.”

I was talking with someone about Romney, and they said, well it’s not like we’ve never elected a rich guy before. That’s right, but it’s one thing to be rich, it’s another thing for people to think that being rich somehow make you out of touch or elitist.

What’s the point of all this? Why am I reviewing two pretty generic Obama ads?

I remember when  Slate Magazine doing their truth watch on the 2000 Presidential campaign with GW Bush and the liar Al Gore. The piece stopped after five articles because the author much to her surprise couldn’t find enough Gore lies to justify a continuing run. The author

The thing is, the stories we carry with us are powerful — like stereotypes, they help us navigate the world (like stereotypes those truths can often led us in the wrong direction too). When we can reinforce those truths with our ads, like Obama does here, and the effect resonates with viewers.

What happens when the “Truth” is against us? I alway thought the best weapon on Gore’s side was Spike Jonze’s unseen documentary — which was the only time I’ve seen him portrayed as a real person.

Romney now has a decision to make does he fight against this meme, this narrative? If he chooses to fight, then he has to proceed very carefully because just protesting will only reinforce the frame people already have.  He has to do more than tell people he’s not an elitist, he has to show them he’s not. If he can’t do that in an authentic way, then he’ll never convince people otherwise. Cause that’s the thing about truth, it’s sticky till it’s not.

 

Dueling Ads Hawaii

February 2, 2012

Two strange ads up in the Hawaii Democratic Primary…

So Ed Case has regular folks saying they’re going to vote for him then thanks voters for thinking about their choice.  I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something off about the ad. It’s shot in a documentary style (shaky camera moves that hint at capturing real life), but the people in it feel somewhat staged. Were they given lines to read or were the lines authentic? I can’t tell, I wonder if voters will be able to tell.  A third party validator is only as believable as they’re credible.  I don’t find these people particularly credible, but maybe that’s me.

A couple other choices I question: 1. The lack of music leaves the spot feeling rather flat, there’s no emotion too it, and that comes off in the delivery of the lines. 2. If these are real people, why not identify them?  Identifying people who are speaking helps because it makes them seem more credible, they’re real people, it’s not just some mechanic in an ad, but John Doe who happens to be a mechanic.

One element of the ad I do like is the frame of a choice. Ed Case, by acknowledging people have a choice (maybe a hard one for them) comes off as empathetic and understanding — maybe he gets it.

Mazie Hirono’s ad on the other hand decides to turn back the clock and run like it’s 2008 or 2006 or any other even numbered year George W Bush was president. Really are we still running against Bush policies?  I know it’s a Democratic primary, but somehow this ad seems out of step or at least out of date. I’m sure there must have been some polling on this (these) issue, but it just comes off as odd to me.  (And, yes, I get she’s trying to frame her Democratic credentials against the more conservative Ed Case, but it’s still feels like a throwback.) Do Democrats have to run against Bush to prove their liberal? When does that stop?

Also what’s with the two “regular” people saying her name, what’s the deal with that? They know her name? I kept waiting for them to come back and say something or anything more, it just seemed like a dangled promise that there was something else there.

So who wins this round? I’m not sure. Both ads strike me as slightly weird. Hirono’s ad has higher production values and music, but it’s about as cliche as it gets stylistically, there’s nothing interesting about it. Ed Case has a odd mockmentary flavor and is flat, but I think probably works slightly better despite it’s lack of credibility.

Fair or Foul?

January 30, 2012

Romney is coming out swinging against Gingrich with a new ad attacking him for ethics violations.

It’s a pretty hard hitting ad, reminding voters that Newt has a past and not a pretty one. It also goes to Newt’s principles and values, framing him as a hypocrite.  It’s an effective charge because it comes not from the campaign itself, but it comes from a third party, a trusted unbiased source.

This approach has stirred some controversy as NBC and Tom Brokaw have objected to the use of use footage in the ad. It’s not the first time this type of issue has come up, and I have to say it seems disingenuous of NBC to object to the ad.  Look, Brokaw said it, he said it to make a point, to get ratings, to report the news, whatever the reason, it a part of the public record, and I think it’s entirely fair for Romney to use it in an ad. It’s one thing if it’s not true or if they edited it to make it appear that Brokaw was saying something other than what he actually said on the air. But that’s not the case here.

For NBC  or Brokaw to cry about it now is sanctimonious bull. Brokaw claims this use compromises his role as a journalist, how is that exactly? Did he not mean what he said? Or does he regret saying it?   There’s no implication that NBC or Brokaw endorsed the campaign (and it’s not like news organizations don’t endorse candidates anyway) or in anyway said it other than to report the news.  In fact by using the motif of the tv screen (a common element of the negative ad genre) it makes it pretty clear this is a political ad — the Romney campaign didn’t need to present the news report like this, but doing so, is really going out of their way to make this look like an ad rather than try to fool the viewer into thinking this is an actual “unbiased” news report they’re watching.

If Brokaw or NBC believe this is mudslinging then why did they report it this way initially? It’s factual and effective precisely because they present the clip unedited and without commentary.

It’s the type of ad where the execution stays out of the way of the message, and while it’s not breaking new ground, my best guess is that it’ll be pretty effective at reminding people what they don’t like about Newt.

 

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.

I said what!?

September 30, 2010

Another good ad from yesterday.

Sometimes when my seven year old is blaming me or my wife or his brother for whatever mistake he just made, I remind him of something Shakespeare said, “The fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.” (It came back to haunt me when he quoted it to a friend, and said, see it’s all your fault.)

I like the visual look of the ad, the multiple filmstrip style. I think it’s both interesting and effective at presenting the clips, which are at the heart of this spot. I think this is spot is pretty devastating to Crist, capturing his own words, turning them against him now that he’s an “independent.”

Look, I think Crist gets what he deserves in this case. He’s been waffling and trying to play both sides, as he ran in the Republican primary, then switch to independent as it became clear that he couldn’t win.

Crist’s positioning was completely political and never felt authentic to me.  Now he’s paying the price for his political maneuvering. I believe you’re better off doing what you think is right then doing what a poll tells you people think is right. It can come back to bite you when the winds of change shift.

To quote Shakespeare again, “To thine own self be true.”

Framing your argument

September 22, 2010

I like the look of this new ad from the DSCC, I’ve wanted to use a filmstrip style look for a while now.  I think this is a pretty good ad, and does a lot to undercut Christine O’Donnell.  Instead of attacking her character or wacky ideas, they go straight for her competence. I think that’s a good approach.

Frankly, most of the ad is filer (in the sense, I can’t remember a thing is actually said) till you get to the last line from a “former employee.” That’s the killer, saying she was financially irresponsible, a former employee, bam! It goes back to validation. The last line nails it home, and gives everything that came before it a frame and context.

Do you need the other attacks, “didn’t pay her taxes,” etc, I don’t know. I can’t remember the specifics by the end, but I do remember that employee saying she was financially irresponsible. Certainly, you could lose the rhetoric, she would fit right in in Washington. If you didn’t know she didn’t pay her taxes or hired an employee she didn’t pay, or whatever else she didn’t do with her money, would it matter? Don’t know.

Still this is a good hit, and a step above the usual party attack ad.

Validators

September 17, 2010

Validators can be powerful elements to a negative message. In the Rand Paul ad using his own words, I didn’t quite believe it, this one I do. The execution is alright, but I think the message is a killer.  Fiorina seems cold hearted and totally unconcerned with the plight of the folks she’s laid off. The “I’m proud of what I did at HP,” comes across as arrogant and out of touch.

Validators can appear more authentic, and they do something else as well: they often times, show instead of telling. Sure they punctuate the point here , “Outsourcing Jobs, out for herself,” but I wonder if the ad wouldn’t have been better off ending with her saying she was proud of what she did at HP, and some summary, 30,000 jobs outsourced etc.

Here’s another case of a validator. The ad has been pulled from youtube because Fox News has sued the Carnahan campaign over the use of Chris Wallace.

News sources are particularly good validators because of their “impartiality” works for them. In this case, Fox’s bias works for the Carnahan campaign, because the ad is 25 seconds of him skewering Roy Blunt. Now, the press hates getting thrown into the middle of political campaigns, but heck if you’re gonna say it, then you need to own it.

Again I’m not sure they need the “Worst of Washington,” end tag, I think they could have just have ended with, “are you the one…” But, I like that they just went for 25 seconds of Wallace instead of feeling the need to cut to some punctuation of the message (well, they held off on that till the end).

Both these ads are good examples of how to use validators effectively (even if the first isn’t entirely interesting).  They key to both of them is that they show and don’t tell, that they feel authentic. The difference between these and the Rand Paul ad, is that in the later it felt like they were trying to make him say something I’m not sure he was saying, it felt dishonest (is Rand Paul really against selling drugs for example), and that undercuts the power of the validator.

Wow.

September 10, 2010

There are certain guildlines I try to think about in ad making:

Storytelling. Emotion over logic. Show don’t tell.

Well, this ad has them all.  I showed it to my partner, afterwards his face was red and he was teary eyed, I had a similar reaction, that’s from two jaded political ad professionals.

Great ad. I could talk about the execution or whatever, but in an ad like this, all that doesn’t matter. All that matters, is that its an amazing story, that says something critical about the candidate’s character, and it does so in an emotionally compelling way.

They say positive ads don’t move numbers, well if any positive could move numbers it’s this one.  Might be the best ad I’ve seen this year.


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