Tuesday, October 19, 2004

New Swift Vets ads

Click here to see the two new ads from the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth.

The first one, called "They Serve," provides a powerful image of a group of men who cannot be so easily dismissed (as the mainstream news media would like to do).

However, the ad begins and ends with rather vague statements, and I can see how a hypothetical voter who does not know who the Swift Boat Vets for Truth are (that is to say, someone who probably should stay home on election day), might think these are John Kerry's "Band of Brothers" who support him.

The ad begins:

They served their country with courage and distinction. They’re the men who served with John Kerry in Vietnam. They’re his entire chain of command, most of the officers in Kerry’s unit. Even the gunner from his own boat.

It ends:

Today they are teachers, farmers, businessman, ministers, and community leaders. And of course, fathers and grandfathers. With nothing to gain for themselves, except the satisfaction that comes with telling the truth, they have come forward to talk about the John Kerry they know. Because to them honesty and character still matters. . . especially in a time of war.

However, the main point of the ad is one brief statement buried in the middle. I actually had to run the ad twice in order to catch it:

They’re the men who spent years in North Vietnamese prison camps. Tortured for refusing to confess what John Kerry accused them of . . . of being war criminals.

It's a great-looking ad, but it may be their weakest, simply because the charge against Kerry is muffled by statements that could conceivably have come from a John Kerry ad.

On the other hand, the second ad, entitled "Why," is very good and gave me that funny feeling in my sinuses that I get when I am deeply moved.

Were I the kind of man who spends hours fussing with his hair or getting a manicure, I might have broken down sobbing uncontrollably.


At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked both ads. But you're right, there is a striking difference between them. "Why" is right there, upfront, no question about the point. But even though it's a much more subtle ad, when I viewed "They Served" I also got the point. I wonder if these ads are targeted toward different markets? Myself, I preferred "They Served" - it made me go "Hmm..." and think about it, when "Why" didn't. I guess I'm a "nuanced" sort of guy (gag, cough, spit...Kerry has poisoned the word 'nuanced', I'm surprised I could even type it!)

Of course, I'd read your post before I viewed the ads, and also was watching closely, which is something a person viewing on TV and "who probably should stay home on election day" (heh, heh, I know a few of those) wouldn't be doing.


At 7:42 PM, Blogger Drew said...

I felt both ads were aimed at people who didn't need an introduction to the controversy. In other words, almost everybody who's been paying attention. But when I watch these things, I try to imagine how they sound to people who are only now just coming to the realization that there's an election a couple weeks away.

Any ad campaign wears itself out when subsequent ads depend on familiarity with previous ads. Think back to the famous Budweiser ads with the frogs. The first one was amusing. The ones that followed were dependent on the viewer having seen and understood the first one.

Nevertheless, for me these ads were both powerful. But as a standalone ad--that is, one that's not part of a larger campaign--I would call "They Serve" sort of weak.

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup, I see your point. And I agree - if one knows the history, the controversy, one unquestionably knows what each of the ads is saying. I guess we don't see eye-to-eye on the degree to which a neophyte to this election (aka a dumbass) will understand "They Served." You may indeed be right...I wish I had a neophyte wife and daughter here to do a trial on, but alas, they are probably further right than I am :)


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