Posts Tagged ‘trust your concept’

What’s the function?

February 25, 2014

Is this the first political ad filmed on an iPhone?

I’m all for doing something to get some attention, but what the point of filming it on an iPhone (other than to save money or get attention)? There might be legitimate reasons to film on the iPhone, “My campaign doesn’t have as much money as my opponents…” or maybe its just a gimmick to make the ad feel more “homey” or to make her likable (see I’m like you, I film things on my iPhone).  In that case you have to go with the concept and trust it. Having her holding the iPhone then cutting to images that were created in a studio seems like a cop out at that point.

I don’t find the ad cutting edge or really interesting, though the copy has some potential. To me the iPhone thing is more distracting rather than a plus or interesting, it takes away from what could be an interesting message. What if she used the iPhone to tell her story, then encouraged her supporters to send in their iPhone videos of their families? What if she used the iPhone like we all do, taking selifies and quick pictures from her day of filming, then continued to push out iPhone videos of her day? Then the idea is about more than just the ad, its a concept to engage your audience rather than a lame gimmick that doesn’t really tell me anything about the candidate.

 

 

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At least he’s trying. Spitzer’s second ad.

July 26, 2013

Gosh I wish Elliot Spitzer could run ads from now till 2014.

I’m not sure this is a great ad, not even sure I like it, but at least the guy (well probably Jimmy Siegel) is trying.

What I like about this ad is it doesn’t hit you over the head with it’s message, doesn’t feel the need to fill the quiet space nor pump you full of talking points. It keeps you waiting, and doesn’t reveal itself till the end and even then, it doesn it with a crinkled newspaper headline. I really appreciate that they trusted their concept.

I’m not sure the music is right, but again, think of how this ad vould have gone: Elliot Spizer has spend a career going after Wall Street… Blah… blah.. blah… Instead of the usual talking points, they engage you with a reveal, and let your imagination fill in the rest (gosh, he has been a thorn in Wall Street’s side) to my mind that’s worth a 1000 talking points.

 

You call this negative?

April 15, 2013

For followers of this blog, you know I love it when consumer brands go negative:

1. It tickles me because many traditional advertisers have a holier than thou attitude towards negative advertising,

2. and it’s always interesting to see their takes on negative ads. Some like Apple do it very very well, others like Direct TV and Dish, eh not so much.

Mircosoft is the latest to join the negative ad bandwagon. They have a whole “don’t get scroggled campaign” which generally goes after google for being less than their vaunted “do no evil” policy. The appoach is interesting because previously they tried to show how their search engine Bing was superior. I guess that campaign wasn’t so successful so Microsfot decided they would (horrow) go negative.

So is their negative campaign any better than their positive one (which sucked)?

Wow, you get two ads for the price of one.

Ad One is two real people conversing casually… expect their spouting Bing talking points. These ads work to the extent that the acting and diologue sound authentic and real. This ad fails in that respect… fails pretty miserably. The acting is stiff, but maybe that’s cause the dialogue sounds more like they’re reading from a memo. Seriously Microsoft this is the best you can do?

Ad two is a ponteially interesting concept, having these goofy Internet type people, intereacting with the two actors because they know so much about him. I think the ad would have been better served moving full force with this concept, rather than trying to balance the two concept. It has potential for humor and more critically potential to show the viewer what’s wrong with Google, rather than telling them via awkward talking points.

This is almost a parody of a negative ad, and it’s neither this nor that. Not funny enough to be interesting and not pointed enough to make it’s point with force.  Without this sounding too snarky it feels like a pollster’s ad, all message but poor execution.

Filming Talking Points

October 16, 2012

Two quick thoughts on this ad from Crossroads:

I think this ad is a complete fail for two reasons:

1. They introduce the King Angus theme at the beginning, but then don’t go anywhere with it? Why waste seven seconds of the spot playing with Angus King’s name, then just let the concept drop.  So instead of a clever concept you have a gimmick that doesn’t push the ad forward at all.

2. My understanding is that King was a pretty popular governor in Maine. I’m not sure how attacking his record as Governor makes anyone change their mind.

If they could have connected the whole King Angus with this record as governor, in other words, connect their frame to the specifics of the ad, maybe they could sell their message. Instead they have a series of talking point masquerading as an ad.

A Bridge too far….

August 21, 2012

Wow that’s a lot of production values for a political ad.  I love the pledge zombies concept, too bad the creators of the ad seem to not know what to do with it. There’s this big build up, then you have what’s a pretty standard political ad. Seems like there are two ads in here, a concept spot about “Pledge Zombies” and a standard to camera ad about the Pledge and why it’s bad for business.

The concept ad could be hilarious, imagine a standard political ad with the pledge zombie, meeting voters, working at their desk, with their family.  (I can see it in my head, it’s pretty funny there at least.) In this ad, it feels like it’s wasted, there’s no payoff to the concept, so why go through all that work?

The failure of this ad isn’t from a lack of creativity or execution, both are very good, but a lack of courage on the part of the consultants (or the candidate) to follow through with a brilliant concept. They came up with something interesting, and instead of playing it, trusting the concept to deliver the message, they go half way, so the ad is neither a good concept ad or a good political ad. (Ok, it’s actually a pretty good political ad, that was a little harsh, it’s just aspires to be something more, and it fails in that aspect.)

I remember reading a book when I was younger, “A Bridge too Far,” by Cornelius Ryan. It a historical account of the the audacious allied plan to end the war, by capturing a series of five bridges behind enemy lines and  opening up a northern route into Germany.  Despite all sorts of problems, the Allies captured four of the five bridges, prompting General Montgomery to proclaim it a success, and others to say, they went “a bridge too far.”

This ad is like Operation Market Garden (the name of the plan in the book), four of five bridges isn’t actually a success, judged by the standards it has set up, it’s a failure, which is too bad because it’s so close to being awesome.

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?

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.

Super Bowl Ads… The Negative

February 7, 2012

Yesterday, I went through ads I like from the Super Bowl, today, I wanted to look at some ads I thought flopped as well a continuing trend, consumer brands going negative (see what I did there, there’s negative like bad, and negative like attack)….

I don’t get it. Met Life cartoon characters, what? Other than getting some attention, there was no connection between the form and the function. What the point? This was weak creative and probably pretty expensive to get the rights to Hanna-Barbara’s characters, so why? Because they could? To try and link to some nostalgia of my generation? Again, if you’re going to do it, then do it, why not show the scooby gang facing retirement, or Richie Rich or Grape Ape, but this was just kinda weak.

(As an aside, there’s a bunch of ads that I thought really sucked beyond my need to discuss, like the  sexist”Teleflora” ad where the woman basically says if you buy your girl something for Valentine’s day, you’ll get some action…. alright.)

Here’s an ad that ran only in Michigan, that stirred up some controversy:

The ad was created by Republican ad guru Fred Davis. I’ve appreciated Davis’ flare and talent here in the past, as well as his desire to make ads stand out, and not be ordinary. But again, I feel he missed the mark here.

I just read this great article in Slate on the demise of Crispin, Porter, Bogusky (a must read). The quote this line from the Crispin employee handbook “that defines advertising as ‘anything that makes our clients famous.'” I think Davis has a similar take on his ads (and he might agree with the Bogusky quote later in the article, “My relationship with advertising was that I was not that fond of it,” he told Canada’s Globe and Mail earlier this year. “So mostly the way I approached it was to kind of mess with the form. “). Any ad that gets his client attention is a good ad, and his ads are very good about getting attention.

Here’s the thing, attention is not the same as being on-message and being on-message is not the same as being on-emotion. This ad gets Pete Hoesktra attention, it’ll get a news cycle or more of talk, but does it move Hoeskstra’s message forward, does it connect with voters any more than the creepy King character connected with consumers?  It sometimes appears that Davis (like Bogusky) holds his medium in contempt, so he toys with it, plays with the viewer, and tries to get his client as much attention as possible — because any attention is good attention… right?

Beyond the offensive chinese stereotype, this ad feels emotionally tone deaf, the “Debbie Spend It Now” line feels forced, there might be a good message here about spending and China holding our debt, but this one is such a mess that it faces the prospect of missing the beat because of all the noise.

Beyond that, here’s are a couple consumer brand on consumer brand crime:

The Chevy ad caused quite a stir as Ford tried to get NBC to not run the ad. I appreciated more than loved this ad. Chevy’s commitment to it’s concept, from the music to the Twinkies,  was well thought out, and they didn’t break the reality they had created except for the line that seemed like it came right out of the Chevy Brochure, “Ford’s not the most durable… blah, blah, blah.” It would have been enough to say Dave didn’t make it, he drove a Ford, and leave it at that, it makes the point.  Still I thought it was clever, and loved the subtly of the jab in an ad filled with excess (in a good way).

The Samsung ad wasn’t the first of it’s kind (it’s run similar ads before), and I think they’re well done. They seem to know their target well — some one hip and cool, too hip and cool to be an Apple Lemming (notice the re-framing of Apple fandom from “think different” to one of the crowd of mindless followers), but someone who wants the latest tech which Samsung happens to offer. Not sure about the “stylus” — which felt like an odd feature (poll driven maybe) to highlight, if you want a stylus, I can did up my old Palm Treo out of my kids toys, still this ad was pretty good, though the big party at the end felt like an unneeded add on, it was something out of a beer commercial.

Still it the ad is nice framing by Samsung, they aren’t trying to beat Apple per se, but position themselves as the alternative to Apple. There’s an aikido like strategy at work here that I appreciate.

A couple of quickies

June 22, 2011

Content is slow these days, so maybe I shouldn’t be breaking these reviews out, but I didn’t have much to say about either of them, but I did want to say something about them.

First from Nevada:

I find this ad incomprehensible. I get the connection they’re trying to make, but it’s either too subtle to too obtusely executed, that I’m confused. Then to top it off the candidate makes an appearance at the end, spouting political speak about raising “Obama’s debt limit” and ending the nightmare. This concept was much better executed (on a bigger budget) in the “Chinese Professor spot,” which I reviewed last year. That spot makes the threat seem real, this spot makes it seem, I don’t know…, but there’s no urgency, so it makes the candidate appear like a wingnut saying he’s going to end a nightmare that seems comical rather than imminent.

A friend sent me this video from Jon Huntsman the great sane hope or something like that. It was weird watching it, boring in parts, sublime in other sections, subtle in concept, but strangely heavy handed in execution — I love the section that starts “dropped out of high school to travel with his band Wizard…” as Boris would say, “Guys, this is movie.”

But for the most part, it felt both like it was trying too hard to make their points. Take the Wizard section. They could have given the viewed the information, “dropped out of high school…blah, blah, blah” and left the viewer to fill in the conclusion this guy is not your ordinary politician, instead they feel compelled to tell you that in the narration, in case you missed it. It’s like they don’t trust this unique concept which is something like a visual haiku nor do they trust the viewer.

And the whole America from 10,000 miles thing, I just didn’t get it? What does it mean?  I did also like the backhanded  shots they took a their opponents.  Still, I found this video perplexing but a good lesson. And maybe thats’s the lesson of the first video as well. You have to trust your concept, I know I make this point often, but it’s clear in these videos they didn’t. They liked the concepts, but didn’t completely trust them to get the job done, so they embellished the message just so everyone got it, but in doing so they undermine the strength of the concept, it becomes neither fish nor fowl as my mom liked to say.

As I wrote to my friend somewhere in this Huntsman video there’s a brilliant concept busting to get out.

 

Get Ready for it…

May 2, 2011

You’re gonna hear the word “Medicare” a lot in 2012. That’s my prediction, and I’m sticking to it.  Here are two ads previewing that fight.

I think the DCCC ad is pretty funny, and doesn’t push the message too hard that it loses it’s appeal. I talk often about trusting your concept, and this ad does to it’s benefit. It’s created some controversy around itself. First papers saying the DCCC was running the ad on TV, which it was only nominally — meaning they had bought enough airtime so the ad was on tv, but it wasn’t really intended to be anything except a way to get news attention.  Secondly, Politifact dinged the ad saying that Republican’s didn’t really intend to “end” medicare, that they only intended to end medicare “as we know it.” I have  a lot of respect for Politifact, but that seems like a distinction without a difference to me, and a tad nit-picky. It’s a good fight for the DCCC to get attention with too, because the more folks talk about what the vote means, the worse it sounds for Republicans (if victory is only ending medicare “as we know it” it’s pyrrhic  at best).

The second ad is the kind that annoys me. While the first ad has a concept and goes with it, this ad never really goes with it.  From the record scratch on “Really” to the fake (maybe it’s real but it sounds fake) old lady’s voice saying he’s a “Nice Young Man…” then spouting the type of political wonkness that real people would never speak. The ad uses the gimmick, but the gimmick isn’t an organic concept. Instead, it’s something that’s supposed to be interesting to cover the fact that we’re listening to wonk talk for thirty seconds.

The real question is what other concepts will we see in the next 18 months?  And what will Republicans respond with because they know the attack is coming now, we’ve shown our cards, was it worth it?


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