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From “Bear In The Woods”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The latest from our favorite anonymous ad exec:


The first time I wrote you I was beside myself over the glaringly obvious fact that the GOP simply doesn’t understand how to craft communications that connect emotionally and culturally to popular culture, or, well, most people. Not long after my very first letter to you, I read a post in Big Hollywood that echoed my sentiments. It’s not enough to understand how the tools of new media work. Understanding the tools is a single step in the process. It’s about crafting content that resonates. If you want to get technical, it’s about concepting, ideas, copywriting, art direction, direction, editing, lighting, camera work, shot selection, typography, casting, and, well, a general expertise with the craft. It requires both skill and talent. [# More #]

The reason the Democrats have a stranglehold on popular culture, and have had for most of my life, is the fact that they understand how to create popular culture. They know how to wave an emotional banner, and get people to follow. We respond with a white paper. It’s maddening to a guy like me that the decision makers in our party are so good at crafting positioning, yet so miserable in translating that positioning into anything that’s watchable. Substance is the foundation you can’t live without. But execution is what makes the substance come to life, and spread. It’s the reason two houses built with identical bricks can be completely different. When one is constructed in an uninspired, workmanlike fashion, and the other designed by an architect with a vision, which do you think will appeal to more people? One’s a piece of art, the other is a pile of bricks. I’m writing today because, again, I’m beside myself over GOP brick piles.

It started yesterday with my issue of “The Weekly Trunk.” The first two links are to GOP-produced videos on YouTube: “Lights Out,” and “Everything Is On The Table.” They both have salient points to make. They have the right positioning. And both are almost unwatchable. They are so horribly executed that neither gives any viewer any reason whatsoever to pass the link along to anyone who doesn’t already completely agree with the points being made. There is no entertainment value at all. The sad attempt at entertainment in “Lights Out” suffers from horrendous concept, direction, casting, staging, and acting. And “Everything Is On The Table,” in addition to suffering from amateurish motion graphics and typography, is just simply forgettable.

There will be a raft of justifications from anyone connected with either of these two, um….efforts. The first will be budget. I’ve heard it before from clients, and I can hear it now: “They were shot and edited on a shoestring, like all political speech — there’s no way they can hold up to consumer advertising.” One word: Bull. More words: I have interns who could concept, craft and finish better work on the money in our petty cash box. Once again, the GOP has not sought out someone — anyone — who is truly skilled in the craft. They’ve translated white-paper talking points to a script, and hired the local A/V guy to turn it into something, in between his gigs shooting weddings and bar mitzvahs. You can’t beat Hollywood and Madison Avenue with the local A/V guy.

The second justification: “It’s YouTube. Production values can be lower, because of the nature and style of the medium.” This one has some merit, but these pieces miss the mark again. The fact is, YouTube does have a DIY aesthetic. Videos made on a webcam have become global hits. On the flip side, Hulu has ushered in a new-found appreciation for production value, delivered in HD over broadband — and people creating for YouTube are following suit. But these videos are neither roughshod DIY pieces nor high-end executions. They’re in the middle. Which is always the most forgettable place to be. Content (acting, personality, art direction) is what takes you out of the middle. These don’t have that.

Finally, I’m sure I’ll hear: “This is serious subject matter — entertainment value is secondary. ” Ok, then. “Passion of the Christ.” Next.

As if these two lame attempts weren’t enough to make my head explode, today, the “Stop Obama-care!” spot broke. Is it possible for us to make something more forgettable? Once again, white-paper talking points, typewriter motion graphics, and generic stock imagery combine to turn what should be an engaging and impactful television commercial into a coma-inducing Power Point presentation. The talking points are good — as talking points. As a commercial that stirs the soul to action on one of the most important policy points of my lifetime, though, this fails miserably. This is strong, I know — but I think this spot is a disservice to the party, and to anyone who’s smart enough to oppose socialized medicine. We deserve better. We can do better. And we have to. Tweet for Truth #obamercial, I predict, will deservedly have much more impact on the discussion.

I get a lot of mail at Almost all of it is positive, but some of it challenges me to get off my duff and do something about the things I write about. The truth is, I’d love to, and have begun to look for ways to do it. The first question is: Is there a market on the Right for quality creative that can compete with what’s produced by the left? I can only hope the recent work by the GOP isn’t my answer.

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