I miss political ads. There I said it, you heard it. I miss them, in all their glorious negativity and cliche grainy shots, I miss them. But just as I going to start a loop of the Daisy Ad, Morning in America, Willie Horton (which is actually a horrible ad), and Fast Talker, along comes my savior, the Chicago Mayor's race. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnEiBKJIvWI]
Hey this guy looks familiar (actually he looks a little like George Clooney the way he's dressed and with that salt and pepper hair). If I was Rahm's political consultant, I would tell him the biggest hurdle he would have to overcome is to make him accessible. Some of this opinion might be inside the beltwayitis, but the notion Rahm and his personality are almost mythic.
The question of how to introduce a candidate is always a hard one. I like that they decided not to go for a traditional biography spot instead opting for a vision ad. Well, really the vision part of it is a MacGuffin, it seems to me what they're really trying to do is make Rahm a real likable person -- to allow voters to connect to him. They do a pretty good job of that too, grounding him as someone who is passionate about Chicago.
That's a pretty powerful opening line, "Chicago is a great city, with great people, and I want my children to feel as passionate about it as I did growing up." There's a lot going on in that one line, some bio (has kids, he grew up here), some character (he's passionate), and some values (a sense that he's going to fight, that he wants to pass something important down to his kids). It's something every parent can connect with, passing something down important to their children. That in and of itself makes Rahm human in a way a more tradition spot could not. It'sa line that's working with the philosophy of "show don't tell."
Is this a great spot? No, but it's a solid B, maybe B+. Visually it has the requisite shots of the candidate talking with folks, shaking hands interacting with kids in the classroom when you discuss education or with cops when you're talking about "our streets." No, the visuals are pretty standard and a couple (the rack focus taking Rahm out of focus and the end shot where's he shaking hands, but not really looking at the guy) are odd choices. The documentary style adds to a sense that he's not pre-packaged and it creates a sense of reality that enhances the believability of the ad.
Essentially this ad is trying to do what the Christine O'Donnell witch spot could not, which is to take the image folks might have of the candidate and turn it (or spin it if you will) into something more positive. This spot works because it doesn't ever go to far from what folks already know -- if they had tried to show Rahm as all soft and cuddly then it would feel fake. Instead, they take the strengths of his image, and say he's passionate and can make tough choices, now that's believable.
My biggest complaint of the witch ad was that O'Donnell didn't seem believable, this ad doesn't have the problem, I think it's very believable, and does a good job framing Rahm, which is ultimately the goal of your initial ad.