Communication Craft

October 6, 2012
Posted by Jay Livingston

I couldn’t understand why Mitt Romney would make a point of telling people he was going to off Big Bird.  What was the political wisdom in promising to get rid of something everyone likes?  But his statement seemed so deliberate, I figure his people must have tested it or at least thought it through, and maybe they have evidence that contradicts common sense.

Here’s another political ad where the strategy seems all wrong.  Don’t the communications experts say that everything should to work together? Consultants coach candidates on how to make the body language consistent with what they’re saying.  In ads, images should amplify the message stated in words. If the candidate is talking about farm policy, show him in front of a field of cows.

Maybe the ad does work.  When I was watching it, I realized, just as the researchers say about cell phones and driving, I couldn’t attend simultaneously to two different things– the written Kerrey-ad video and the Steve Martin home-crafts instructional video.  When I read the writing on the pages, I lost Martin, though if I tried, I could shift my attention quickly from one to the other. 
I wondered if the end of the ad would have a voiceover: “I’m Clair Parlance, Professor of Communications studies, and boy, did I not approve this message.”

(For another example of audio not matching video, take a look at this version of “The Shining” with Seinfeld music and laugh-track)

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