Written by: Dave Huguenel, Vice President
I love making videos for campaigns. It’s the candidate’s single best opportunity to give a voter a compelling story or deliver a strong message that can make or break a race. I’ve seen a ton of campaign ads and over the years and there are a few “mistakes” that campaigns make when producing their videos that I think ruin the overall effectiveness of the ad. So, it’s with that in mind, that I humbly submit for your reading pleasure, Dave’s “Top Four Pet Peeves” for campaign ads:
4 - The B-Roll doesn’t match the message.
Unfortunately, I see this one way too often. Candidates or the narrator are doing a voice over that talks about one thing, but the video is showing something completely different. This typically happens because campaigns don’t take the time to think about the types of shots they’ll need later in the campaign and don’t capture enough b-roll during their shoots to cover the messages they need to convey.
The Solution: Plan ahead! Work with your production team to map out all of the b-roll that you think the campaign will need in advance. Not only will this make your ads that much better, but it will potentially save some money by avoiding doing additional shoots!
3 - The color grading doesn’t match.
If you’re not familiar with color grading, think of it like using an Instagram Filter to make your video look better (except way more time consuming and complicated!). Any video captured on a shoot will need some color grading to make sure it has a good, quality look to it. However, when campaigns are in a crunch to get a video out quickly, the color grading can look different for various shots. This makes your ad look like a bunch of small videos stitched together, instead of one cohesive visual story.
The Solution: Timelines are always tight when it comes to campaigns, but work with your production team and try to factor in the correct amount of time to allow them to spend those extra few hours color grading an ad. It makes all the difference in the world!
2 - The music doesn’t match the pace of the video.
I’ll be honest, I was tempted to make this my number one pet peeve. Campaign ads are just as much an audible message as they are a visual one, but so many ads seem to just click on the first piece of cheap music they can find online and call it a day. The tempos don’t seem right, the crescendos in the music don’t rise when the major message points are being delivered, it’s just a hot mess.
The Solution: Think about what the story in the video is and give some thought to what that story sounds like musically. Is your message inspirational? Are there big moments in the video that the music should match? Thinking about these questions ahead of time will help your music track emphasize the message you want to deliver.
1 - The “Hostage Video” Camera Shot.
This one is the worst, and you probably even agree with me even though you don’t know what I’m talking about yet. I’m talking about relying on the candidate looking straight into a camera on a tripod and reading from a teleprompter like they’re being forced to read a list of demands. Too often political campaigns rely on these single types of shots without any diversity. While there are times and uses of these sort of shots, they can’t be the only ones. These straight to camera shots don’t stand out even a little bit, and I bet you tune them out, just like I do.
The Solution: Don’t rely on only straight to camera. Have a plan to work with several different camera angles. If you’re going to utilize straight to camera, or any other shot of the candidate for that matter,, have a plan to make it more interesting. Add some movement to the camera with a gimbal, slider, or dolly. Or utilize the shot to bring up graphics or other important information that you want the candidate to be explaining. Another great way to avoid the static feel that often comes with those shots is to utilize an interview style format with leading questions so that the candidate comes across more natural and real. It all comes down to diversity of shot. As long as you’re planning to have multiple shots with good movement, framing, and diversity of look, you’ll be creating a much better ad.