Ad of the Week: Use your hands — be heard
by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) A campaign to encourage people to make use of their democratic right — to vote — is flighting now, and is possibly one of the most important South Africans will watch in 2016. It’s to remind people to register for the municipal elections later this year. Produced by Darkstar (account management) in collaboration with Publicis Machine (creative) and directed by Dean Blumberg of Bouffant for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the public service announcement (PSA) is engaging and motivating, regardless of the viewer’s political affiliation.
Undeniably, one of the most powerful acts citizens may do is to place their cross on a ballot paper. It is a cornerstone of democracy — an action that enables government of the people, for the people, by the people.
2016 is the year of municipal by-elections in SA. This ballot will choose the representatives in local government responsible for service delivery and day-to-day administration that affects our daily lives. As such, this is a critical election [especially considering the current political and economic situation — ed-at-large]. As the IEC points out on its website: “Municipal councils ensure services that impact the daily lives of citizens in their areas, including water, electricity and sanitation.”
This year, the elections are expected to be highly contested: emotions are running high, and dissatisfied voters could force a change in local government in several municipalities. In this context, it’s so refreshing to see this campaign for the IEC. The TVC comes in two flavours — one for the older generation, and one for the youth. And it’s an important distinction, because it’s often the youth who seem to remain apathetic until issues affect them directly, and the only avenue is open protest. This is also a cornerstone of democracy, but the point of voting for representatives in government is to make sure that they act in your interests at all times, not just when it’s in your own backyard.
Both ads use the same footage, but the copy is different, and the editing pacier in the ‘youthful’ ad. Both get the same message across, though.
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The first, more ‘mainstream’ ad begins with a series of close-ups on various hands. The narrator asks: “What do these do?” The montage that follows then supports the narrator answering his own question:
“They build things” — over a montage of wood being sawed.
“Sometimes small…” — over a scene of people enjoying a game of Jenga — the game where you remove wooden blocks from a tower one at a time, without allowing the structure to fall.
“Sometimes big…” — over a scene of a construction site.
“Like this…(not bad!)” — over a scene of a dog owner trying to coach his dog into a new, hand-made kennel.
“Like that… (amazing!)” — for an aerial shot of the Soweto Soccer Stadium.
“Mend what’s broken”
“Our hands mend what’s broken,” the narrator continues, over a shot of a little girl watching while her doll is being mended by her father, and the scene cuts to a granny treating a little boy’s grazed knee. “They heal and help,” the voiceover says, and when the little boy knocks over the gentian violet, he adds: “That’s going to leave a mark!” A soccer coach waving his hands illustrates the idea that hands motivate, and a scene of a group of people having a lively discussion is used for the concept that hands communicate.
“Sometimes they need words,” says the narrator, over a scene of someone using a chat app on a smartphone. “Sometimes not,” for a scene of someone finding their name on a graduation list, and joining others in a ‘victory dance’.
“Our hands teach… train… and feed young brains,” the narration continues, over scenes of first an archeology lecture, then one of a professor with an equation that covers about ten blackboards. (“Yoh! Good luck solving that!” the narrator comments.)
There are two other scenes, illustrating how hands can make their mark, but the denouement of the piece is provided by the narrator: “Whether our hands build, teach or heal, our hands are always shaping our tomorrow. That’s why, this year, I’m using mine to vote. Because my tomorrow is in my hands.” The final shot is of a voter’s finger being marked with indelible pen, and a ballot being slipped into a box.
Still using the concept of hands, the youth-oriented ad is pacier, and the copy changes to a more playful tone. “What are these? — They’re communicators, senders, receivers. You’ve got this.” The visuals are drawn from the same scenes, but the editing is faster and less ‘obvious’; the words and the visuals don’t necessarily match up as precisely, much as a music video isn’t always about the lyrics of the song. Youth, it seems, are more capable of making lateral connections? Well, maybe; I think it works well.
The ad is beautifully filmed, relying on good lighting, casting and locations. The camera is always moving, foreground and background action also keep the frame alive, and the colour palette is subtly different for each scene.
I’ve already mentioned the editing, and I think this is a great example of how different editing approaches can fulfil different briefs, using the same basic footage. The copy is fun and engaging, as the narrator switches between delivering the lines and making humorous asides.
I’m happy to say I’m already registered — are you? Diarise 5/6 March and go make your mark!
Ad of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research. If you are involved in making advertising that is smart, funny and/or engaging, please let Oresti know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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