Political Ads: What Works, What Doesn’t

For reasons I can’t articulate in my current jet lagged (and lost-luggage) state, this moveon.org ad trying to blunt the GOP’s Rovian exploitation of 9/11 just doesn’t seem that effective — even though I agree with it:

In contrast, this ad from votevets.org targeting Sen. George Allen seems just about absolutely perfect:

Do you agree? What’s wrong with the first one?

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11 Responses to Political Ads: What Works, What Doesn’t

  1. peter says:

    My gut reaction is that the first ad is something I’ve heard again and again and know already. If someone doesn’t know these things already, he’s inoculated his mind against the message. The second one is news: it makes me think: I didn’t know that. WTF could Allen have been thinking?

  2. Sue Ann says:

    Doesn’t the first ad use 9/11 for political purposes too?

  3. The second ad is a kick in the gut….

    I think that the first one’s biggest problem is the background music….. its way too soothing.

  4. Amended comment…

    its not just the music that is too soothing in the Move on adm the voice is too soothing (the narrator doesn’t even sound that concerned), and that it doesn’t actually ask you to do anything — instead, it tells you that you don’t actually have to do anything (“Are they going to get away with it? Not on your life” as opposed to “Are you going to put up with it?”)

    And the ending also annoyed me…. what is the point of telling us that Move-On has 3.2 million members?

  5. lacj says:

    What Paul said. The voice is too smooth.

  6. Joey says:

    Its the different between an explanation of incompetance and a demonstration of it. The 1st ad just tells you there was no connection btw Iraq and 9-11, but doesn’t tell you why. It will not convince anyone who is on the fence. The 2nd ad will comes off as conclusive. If someone did not know the full extent of the adminisration’s incompetance with regards to body armor, they do now.

    If the 1st ad is intended to get the anti-war crowd to the polls though, it could be more effective.

  7. The ad is too general. The tone is passive and the “not on your life” punch-line does not undo anything that came before it. “They said they could do something and they couldn’t”
    Well then can you?
    Only authority can question authority. The grunt in the second ad is authority.

  8. Altoid says:

    I’m generally on board with most of what people have said about the first one– soothing anodyne voice, script that seems intended to evoke outrage and action but ends up asking for not much (related to what’s permissible for an outfit like MoveOn?). The same narrator shouldn’t do the responsibility clip at the end, it dilutes the message. The message needs a voice with a sharper edge and with more rhythmic variation. They’re apparently going for portentous with the sound track, but they didn’t get it.

    Above all they’ve managed, miraculously, to make it visually uninteresting even though the images should be arresting. They did it by adopting the Ken Burns style: all shots held for the same time, presented at the same pace, stills made to move by panning. Like PowerPoint on automatic. It was interesting 15 years ago but old hat now– PBS documentaries can be edifying and sometimes enjoyable but nobody gets excited by that combination of visuals and narration anymore.

    I think Joey’s right that for most people a single graphic demonstration works better than generalities, and personal testimony carries a tremendous weight of authenticity in the age of reality TV. That’s the case whether or not the testimony is true, of course, which the Goopers know full well. They’re light-years ahead of most liberal/left media types when it comes to playing with the public mind through visuals and sound track. Time for the new crews to get to work.

  9. I think the most basic difference is that the MoveOn ad is an ad for MoveOn, while the Vets ad is aimed directly at affecting your vote. One addresses political strategy, arguing that it’s important to defeat the Rs, and that MoveOn can do so. The other addresses a single issue of concern to the voters, putting a single politician on the wrong side of it, to persuade you to vote against him.

  10. Joey says:

    Unfortunately, I just discovered the body armor ad is very misleading. It seems the whole issue is a fabricated one. check out http://factcheck.org/article438.html

  11. Michael says:

    No: the body armor ad is accurate — it’s the factcheck.org piece that is wrong. See FactCheck.org…Wrong on the Facts:

    FactCheck.org Falsely Claims Republicans Didn’t Vote Against Body Armor for Troops

    Media Matters Analysis Shows ‘Vote Vet’ Ads are Truthful and Based on Verifiable Recorded Senate Votes

    September 22, 2006 (Washington, DC)- In recent days, both The Arizona Republic editorial page and the website FactCheck.org have both incorrectly attacked a television advertisement by the newly formed group Vote Vets criticizing Sen. George F. Allen (R-VA) for his April 2003 opposition to a Democratic amendment that would have increased U.S. National Guard funding for body armor as “deceitful” and “just plain wrong”. However, A Media Matters analysis clearly shows that the ad in question is truthful and is based on entirely on verifiable, recorded Senate votes.

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