Posts Tagged ‘Why’

Why

October 8, 2013

A lot of back and forth the Virginia Governor’s race. I’ve ignored most of it because frankly the ads have been eh.

I wanted to write about this ad not because it’s great, but I think it’s missing something important.

What’s it missing?

WHY?

Why is she supporting Cuccinelli?

Why isn’t she supporting MacAulaffe?

And, just because Tichi is a mother and Democrat, why should I listen to her? Frankly, why should I believe her?

Is it enough she’s a mother and democrat? Is it enough that she’s african-american? That’s obviously what Ken Cuccinelli believes.

But it’s not enough to be on message, it’s not enough to make your points, people want to hear a why because we want to understand and connect. There was a study that people were more likely to let someone cut into a line, let’s say to make photocopies, if they only gave a reason (a why), even if the reason was something as obvious as “Can I cut in because I need to make some copies….”

The audience is smarter than you think. Without the why, there’s not credibility. Without the why, the ad is just platitudes. Without the why, it all too easy to ignore the message and the messenger.

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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.

Book Club “Starting with Why”

May 17, 2010

My real work kept me from blogging last week.  But I wanted to write  a quick post about a new book I’m reading, “Staring with Why.”

If you’ve read “Good to Great” or even “Its not what you sell, it’s what you stand for…” then you probably don’t need this book.  Having looked at those books, I find “Starting with Why” much more approachable, at least for me.

The book basically posits that while most companies focus on the “What” they do (air travel, build computers, make cars) or occasionally the “How,” what really motivates and inspires people to buy your product or service or even vote for your candidate is the “Why.”   “Why” talks about the purpose in what you do, “Why” is your values or principles.  “Why” is about authenticity and connection not manipulation.

The idea of “why” is something I think about both in my own company, but also on the campaigns I work for. “Why” is what makes companies like Apple or Southwest successful, “Why” is what underlies the appeal of the Obama campaign and the failure of John Kerry.

The book isn’t very research heavy, but is very readable, and without a doubt work a look.


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