Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Friday, May 21, 2004


Kerry Flash Ad: "The House of Oil"

It’s almost too easy to criticize the latest Kerry flash ad.

They start with a weak message, and then make an incoherent mess of it by getting virtually everything wrong: imagery, tone, sound, script and voice. To deliver what ought to be an alarming message, they’ve created something with the look and sound of a pinball game, then combined it with a bad script – read by an adenoidal college kid.

Let’s start with the message. If you look at the report that was presumably used as the basis for this disaster, a few facts jump out -- all of which are much more compelling than anything that the ad actually contains. Using those facts, I might have written something more like this:

Since George Bush took office, gas prices have gone up by 41% -- costing American consumers twenty-five billion dollars. And while you’ve been paying more, Bush’s friends in Big Oil have been making more: thirty-three billion dollars more, in their pockets, in extra profits. You think George Bush is looking out for your interests? Think again.

You could read that script in thirty seconds -- and get a better point across. Show the meter on a gas pump running up, up, up … all the way to $25 Billion. Reinforce it with sound effects that work. And get an authoritative, grown-up voice to read the script – and you just might have the beginngs of a decent ad.

This thing, however, belongs in trash bin.

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