Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ads of the Damned: Terrence Wall Campaign, "Rebuild"

We here at The Chief love commercials, and since campaign TV ads are starting to roll out, we're going to grade them. We'll try and be objective about these and critique them from the perspective of a TV critic first, and then maybe a political observer if we get around to it. Feel free to tell us what you think in the comments below.

Terrence Wall's first ad out of the gate is remarkably underwhelming. The ad's central metaphor -- an industrious man repainting -- a-hem -- a wall red (nice touch there, boys) -- is hokie and obvious, but Wall's ad men sprinkle a little bloodlust into the central narrative to sex things up a bit. "That first building, falling apart, didn't just need paint -- it needed scraped clean. Washington is like that decaying building..." The old paint chips falling on Feingold's portrait was a lovely alternative to Wall dropping trow and taking a dump on the picture, and yet the same essential point was achieved.

As for the rest of the ad, there's some discontinuity. The only reasons we get for voting for Wall are because he's spent his life (a.) "creating jobs" and (b.) raising a family. We get no less than three different frames of Wall at work -- on the Blackberry, walking through a construction site and maybe doing his taxes at his desk? -- but none of his family... what's up with that? I guess one could say that the camera does seem to linger on the framed pictures of Wall's family in the bookshelf behind him, but why not just show him passing the peas to the wife and kids at the dinner table?

Conceptually, it's not a terrible idea, but the execution seems lacking. I don't think it was necessary to have the candidate himself standing in front the ad's central metaphor. It would have been more effective to show more of a montage of Wall in his natural environment and not as if he were staring in a one man production of Samuel Beckett play for half the ad.

Last, but not least, is the last frame of the spot:
It's an unnecessarily low angle intended to make Wall look like a towering figure. The shot is too low and tight and exaggerates the "towering effect" of Terrence Wall too much. It doesn't look comically absurd, but it's just low enough to look way too obvious.

Not so random observation: The wall T-Wall is scrapping was concrete and not, say wood or aluminum siding. It's still a strong wall, just one that needs to a new paint job. We get the visual pun. Please don't let this become another obnoxious leitmotif like Scott Walker's damn brown paper bag.

Final Grade: D


Stewie said...

The thing I notice is the sharp contrast between the "manual labor" imagery and Wall as a Man. And I think if I (who finds beefy football type-builds actually revolting) notice it - others certainly will.
Wall has a very slight build and sharp facial features, even his clothes here kind of "balloon" around him. He looks like he's never stepped from behind his desk or done a bit of physical labor beyond pushing a power mower around a manicured lawn, or tossing in a load of laundry when the wife is sick.
It makes him look weak.

And while Wall imagery can denote strength it can also (perhaps more commonly these days) denote exclusion, resistance, inflexibility and pigheadedness.

Put up a wall.
Like hitting your head against a brick wall. etc.

and if I was his rival I might make an ad that implies he is just going to put a fresh coat of WHITEWASH all over WALL STREET, protect his Money-buddies and let them get on with business as usual.

lol, yep I might.

Zach W. said...

The irony is that wall looks more orange than red, and we all know orange is Dave Westlake's sem-trademarked color.

As for the ad itself, it's underhwelming.

Anonymous said...

Plus, Terrence is just a really bad name.
His Mama may as well have named him Nancy.

ooooh Terrence, whatcha gonna do about it? Ah am SOOOO scared.