On May 2, 2011 the forty-first federal Canadian election was held, and that election decided the face of power in Canada for the following 1,631 days. Of course, following the 2011 federal election shake-up that saw the Liberal and Bloc Quebecois parties losing a majority of their seats, this year’s upcoming election is all the more interesting to watch as parties clash for the votes of Canadians.
The start of this year’s election campaigns began the earliest in the last century, and unfortunately, maybe this caused a bit of a rush for the PR teams on the campaign trail. Let’s face it, this year’s election is creating one of the biggest stirs in recent Canadian politics in a long time. This is (likely) no majestic feat of elected representatives however, it’s far more likely a result of some genuinely bad PR decisions.
This social media ridicule (all in good fun of course) has been a progressively non-partisan undertaking, with all major parties taking a few good ‘viral’ hits. Most notably when Twitter users took to the web to come up with names for Harper’s new campaigning jet since naming Canadian campaign jets is a media tradition. Suggestions included “Con-Air”, the “C-51 Death Star”, and a personal favourite of mine, “Canadian Economic Action Plane”.
The hashtag #elxn42 has been included in over 7,000 tweets last month alone, and as the October 19 election day quickly approaches, the PR hell, campaigning and T.V. spots will only get more prevalent – and more aggressive.
To prepare you, we’re taking a look at some of the most memorable campaign commercials so far this election period. The opinions reflected in this article do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Brock Press, and these analyses, whether positive or negative, do not specifically endorse a particular party.
For me, one of the most compelling aspects of this campaign has been Stephen Harper’s constant emphasis on Justin Trudeau’s youthful and attractive appearance in his attempt to undermine Trudeau’s campaign. The Conservative campaign seems to have spent a surprisingly (and somewhat uncomfortably) large amount of time and energy talking about how handsome and young Trudeau looks. I can’t help but expect Trudeau to harness his inner Regina George and yell, “why are you so obsessed with me?”
A lot of this focus on youthfulness was centred on controversy related to accusations that Harper was frequently calling Trudeau by his first name, “Justin,” (an issue discussed in several Huffington Post articles), an action which undermines Trudeau’s maturity. So when I first saw the Conservative attack ad, “I’m not saying no forever, but not now,” I was immediately entertained when the ad started out with an elderly man saying “let’s talk about Justin!”
After opening with Trudeau’s first name, there is a close-up of what is supposed to be Trudeau’s resume, with the name JUSTIN in a large, foregrounded, bold font next to a stylized J logo. The last name “Trudeau” is barely visible, as it is in a lighter, more faded colour than the rest of the text on the page, and is noticeably smaller than the word “Justin.” Pretty much the only easily visible parts of this mock resume are the word “Justin,” and Trudeau’s picture. The video also contains someone complimenting Trudeau on his “nice hair”.
The entire point of the video focuses around the idea that Harper doesn’t dislike Trudeau, but that he simply thinks that Trudeau is too young to be Prime Minister (despite the fact that Trudeau is only four years younger than Harper was when he was first elected as Prime Minister). It just seems like such a strange approach to take to a campaign (focusing on the prettiness and age of a competitor, rather than their platform), and it has confused, frustrated and entertained me this whole campaign.
On March 5, Ron Planche, the liberal candidate running to represent Niagara Falls, put on YouTube what might be the worst campaign ad ever made. It has nothing to do with his politics, his credentials or his pledges but with the video itself. Planche describes himself as a “Marketing and communication specialist” and someone who “has deep roots in the arts” with a background in photography from Sheridan College. With that much training, he should at least realize the need to hire a professional to make his campaign ad … or at the very least invest in a tripod.
The only thing worth praising about this video is the music. It does give the impression that Planche truly is the Batman we’ve been waiting for. With Niagara’s economic calamities and Harper turning Canada into a police state and all the rest of it, Planche just knew the time for a hero, a true caped crusader, is now. Someone truly brave enough to take back the PMO and rescue Canadians from their darkest hour.
How can he not be the next Liberal Batman with a campaign pledge like this: “We are tired of a government that thrives on secrecy and fear; one that has failed in the critical portfolio of the economy. We want new ideas and a real effort to bring jobs and genuine opportunities!”
But as the camera bobs up and down like a dingy caught in rough seas, zooming in and out, focusing and refocusing, while our caped crusader delivers an incredibly boring and banal advertisement between painfully awkward silences, uncomfortable camera angles, and way too many close ups, you think, ah, probably not.
It’s unclear how much influence attack advertisements have on voters. For myself, it plays a minimal role in my voting, but that could be different for you or your friend. Attacks ads just make everything so much more enjoyable with the upcoming election. It’s like a new episode to a television series, but each episode is only 30 seconds long.
The NDP’s attack ad on the Conservatives called “Enough” could be assumed as more than just an attack ad. Really, it could be a new television series. Stephen Harper could star in a new series called Enough, with members of his senate playing key supporting cast roles.
The Conservatives are in a bad boat and this ad shows exactly that. With one-third of the senate under RCMP investigation, Harper and his party don’t look to be in a great spot despite being branded by conservatives as the “moral party”. It was a good early attack ad shown by the New Democrats when the election was announced.
Misleading voters, election fraud and illegal lobbying are just a few episode ideas that someone could use to make this into a TV series. Seriously, with everything the Conservatives have been through and everything that is coming out regarding the lies and wrong doings they have done over their run in Parliament it has put them in a boat to recreate their image. It just goes to show that Harper never kept his word when the voters elected him, instead his time as Prime Minister is almost all-but-done with his lack of ability to “clean up Liberal corruption” and his staff being under investigation.
The NDP did a good job showing some of the things wrong with the Conservatives. They also did a great job giving me an idea for a future TV series. So tune in next time to a brand new episode of Enough, to see if a fair-haired, over-the-hill PM can clean up his act and get elected …. again.
Attack ads have been airing non-stop for a while now, preparing for the upcoming elections this October. However, one of the most talked about is the Justin Trudeau “Just not ready” ad.
The advertisement suggests that although Trudeau possesses qualities that may be adequate for the prime minister position, he is not quite there yet. Later, a man precedes to end the ad by suggesting he has nice hair, adding to the idea that he is nothing but a pretty face (and I am confident we can all agree upon the fact that he certainly is easy on the eyes).
The ad might stir up assumptions that Trudeau will fire back with an attack ad similar to the one pointed towards him; instead, he responded firmly and appropriately and did not suggest any rude remarks about specific opponents (at least not directly or in an obvious way).
He proceeded to launch an ad where he acknowledges the attack ad directed towards him and continues to mention all of the reasons why he IS ready, and the reasons why Harper is no longer appropriate for the position.
“I’ll tell you what I am not ready for. I’m not ready for stand by as our economy slides into recession. Not ready to watch hard working Canadians lose jobs or fall further behind,” said Trudeau.
He cleverly uses the attack phrase that was originally pinned against him and turns it around to favour his side by suggesting that he can in fact improve the current situation Canadians are stuck in.
His witty and sharp response could possibly have changed many of the opinions that circulated in regards to his lack of attributes.
Now, Trudeau’s ad strategy can change Canadian citizens’ perspective about him. Hopefully this will allow people to view him as a role model as opposed to a runway model.
My favourite campaign ad from this election features Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a room with several supporters discussing tax reform. The video starts with Harper talking about the conservatives most outspoken platform.
“One of the things to help us weather this economic turmoil is that whenever we have had the chance … we have lowered the taxes and kept them down”. Yes, Harper we know you have kept the taxes at 13 per cent and nobody is doubting you. We are reminded every time we make a purchase so we don’t need to be constantly reminded of this.
The prime minister then assures Canadians that, “Raising taxes doesn’t balance budgets … it never brings in the revenue”. While this does sound nice technically speaking altering/ raising taxes does literally bring in more revenue.
The ad then shifts to some subtle Liberal/ NDP bashing which asserts that raising taxes “Takes money out of your pocket”, “Hurts the economy” and “Kills jobs”. These claims come contrary to the fact that Canada is currently down some 400,000 jobs since the Conservatives took power in 2008 as well as running 8 years of straight deficit.
Harper then closes reminding Canadians once again that the conservatives have not raised taxes. “In all our years in office we have not raised taxes … and are not going to raise taxes … because we care about your budget and your long term welfare”. Okay Harper I will give you that, you have kept those taxes down. I would, however, like to see a conservative ad that is just a loop of Harper saying “Vote conservative we lowered your tax, es vote conservative we lowered your taxes, vote conservative we lowered your taxes.” At least that would give the Conservatives one factual campaign video.
When it comes to election campaigns there is one candidate whose video takes the cake when it comes to viral-ability: Wyatt Scott.
Scott’s internet campaign video, “I’m running for Parliament!” is perhaps the most made-to-be-viral video of all times. It takes everything the internet has to offer, from dragons to lasers, to instantaneous beard growth, and mixes it all together into what could be the most enticing campaign ad ever seen. If internet memes and election campaigns had a baby, this campaign spot would be the love-child.
You may be thinking that this is just some internet hoax. It can’t be serious, right? Wrong.
Wyatt Scott is a (real) independent candidate running to become a Member of Parliament in the next federal election. He won’t be on our ballots since his riding is located in British Columbia, but the fact remains that he has an outstanding campaign ad that’s made it to national news and has captured international attention online.
If not for anything else, his ad is very entertaining. But that is only to be expected from a campaign ad that involves riding a giant Goose, slaying a dragon, fist bumping an alien and stopping a killer robot with lasers shot from Wyatt Scott’s eyes.
On top of that it still manages to explain his campaign platform. A truly awesome achievement for a video already full of the internet equivalent of Cat-nip. Wyatt Scott’s campaign ad is definitely worth a watch.
-Matt Von Lukawiecki