Monday, August 15, 2011

Democratic Challenger Melina Kennedy Airs First Ad; Ogden on Politics Rates the Commercial

Melina Kennedy
Here is the promised review of the first ad by Democratic mayoral challenger Melina Kennedy, delayed due to the Hinkle story and the collapse at the stage of the Indiana State Fair which killed 5 concertgoers and injured scores of others.  Unlike the Ballard commercial, I couldn't figure out how to embed the Kennedy commercial into this blog. The best way to view it is to go to the video page of the Kennedy campaign website.

PURPOSE OF COMMERCIAL:  Like Ballard, I think Kennedy would have beenbetter served by a straight biographical piece as the first TV sport  She hasn't been on the ballot since 2006 and voters need to be reminded who she is.  The strongest part of the commercial is the bio start, which has two video shots lasting five seconds.  Then it shifts to talking about education.  After the nice intro, I think the voters would have been interested in hearing the rest of the Kennedy story.

While starting with a bio before moving on to issues is the traditional way a well-funded campaign starts, Kennedy's camp may have sped up a bit because of shortness of funds.  Yet the better funded Ballard mysteriously did the same thing...foregoing the bio piece for issues.

AUDIO: The Kennedy camp used a professional voice over artist for the commercial.  The Ballard camp produced the same type of spot, but strangely used Ballard's voice rather than hiring a professional.  The Kennedy media person is right.  These types of spots are best with a professional speaking.

VIDEO: In the first 25 seconds of the Ballard commercial, there were 27 video shots creating a jerky, headspinning experience.  Kennedy had just 15 pictures in 30 seconds and was much smoother.

ISSUES (GENERAL):   Unlike the Ballard commercial, which tried to hit four separate issues, the Kennedy campaign did the right thing by sticking to one issue - education.

The criticism from the Ballard campaign about the ad is a legitimate one - the Mayor has very little to do with education with the exception of charter schools which Kennedy does not mention in the ad.  Ballard has also talked about intervening into the failing IPS schools, while Kennedy stops short of that.  Kennedy though correctly points out that the Mayor has a bully pulpit and can influence the education debate.

This analysis though is focused on whether the issue moves voters.  Does the average voter know the limited role the Mayor of Indianapolis historically has in education?  If not, can the Ballard folks educate voters that Kennedy's education promises are beyond the scope of what she'll be able to do if elected to office?  I think the answer to both is "no."

ISSUES (SPECIFIC):  I assume the Kennedy folks have polling that shows Ballard is vulnerable on the education issue and that's why they led with it.   So let's look at the particular education issues raised in the spot.
  • Stronger schools
  • More Accountability
  • Reading by 3rd Grade
  • Learning Math and Science (and Technical) Skills for Jobs of the Future
The four issues raised in the Ballard spot were vague and not tied together.  The ones Kennedy raises are a  bit more concrete,and by focusing just on education, do a much better job of outlining the first of her issues - education.

CLOSING:   The commercial finishes with what I believe is her slogan is "On schools [she is] a can do leader who believes failure is never an option."  It's a nice slogan that subtly contrasts her with Ballard who suffers from the public perception of a passive leader who is dominated by the people who surround him.   I assume when Kennedy hits the next 2 or 3 issues she will adjust this slogan for other issues such as "On crime [she is] a can do leader who believes failure is never an option."  That would be a consistent way of tying everything together with the theme of the campaign.

AVAILABILITY:  The Ballard video is available on YouTube so it's easier to forward and you can embed it easily into blogs.  With the Kennedy commercial you can either watch it on TV or go to her website.  Perhaps the Kennedy folks are keeping it off of YouTube because they want to drive traffic to the campaign website.  While that's understandable, I don't think that's good strategy in an era where people are used to sharing videos.



Cato said...

Reading by third grade? Are you serious? If you don't hit first grade knowing how to read, you should be in remedial classes until you do. A child shouldn't be allowed to enter the grade system until it can read.

How can you possibly complete a single lesson, let alone advance in grade, not knowing how to read?

Bill said...

Between the two candidates, I estimate that they spent about $75k iN the production of those two spots.

Both fell far short of being ground breaking spots.