Monday, January 11, 2010

The Liberal ads: Keeping the momentum going

On Sunday, the Liberal Party released three radio ads (two English, one French) and a print ad focusing on the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ decision to shut down parliament for two months. These ads are noteable for a number of reasons, and would appear to signal a shift in strategy and thinking by the DonOLO.

Cover-up (English, radio)

Present (English, radio)

Fermeture (French, radio)

First, the ads themselves. They’re simple, on message and to the point: Harper prorogued parliament to avoid accountability and debate on important issues, what does he have to hide. They’re negative, yes, but they’re issue-based negative, not personally negative.

I’d argue the purpose of the ads is to keep the prorogation issue alive and in the public consciousness a little longer, with the hope of continuing to stoke that anger and, hopefully, begin to convert some of that anger into Liberal support.

Of course, the ads won’t do all that. They’re merely designed to keep the issue and the anger alive. Harper and the Conservatives are banking on this whole issue just fizzling-out and the public losing interest, returning the political landscape to the status-quo. The challenge for the opposition in the coming weeks will be to keep the momentum going, and keep both the public and the media interested and engaged.

Of course, as I’ve been writing, it’s not just enough to keep the momentum going. You need to do something with it. That’s what the Liberal back to work January 25th and the policy forums are about, as well as Ignatieff’s tour. Converting that momentum into support will be the challenge, but the minimal investment in these radio and print ads (buttressed by a healthy dose of free media) are a worthwhile investment to give that phase two conversion an opportunity to succeed.

More broadly and inside basebally (baseballish?), these ads do signal an interesting shift in strategy by the DonOLO. These ads are the first negative (although issue-based) ads the party has ran in English Canada outside a writ period in recent memory, although the French TV ads in the last round of ads did have more of an edge than the English Iggy in the forest spots.

I know many of my partisan friends were very disappointed the LPC didn’t take more of a hard-edged tone in those ads, opting instead for a feel-good Ignatieff intro approach. So they’ll be happy with the more negative, attack tone of these spots. Myself, I thought the instinct to introduce Ignatieff in a positive way was correct, I just didn’t think those ads did that effectively.

I heard though that, at the time, it was felt to go hard after Harper would backfire in English Canada, but Quebec was more open to it, hence the differing strategies. It would appear with these ads that perhaps it’s felt Harper’s perception numbers have shifted, and a harder edge will now be accepted and could bear fruit. So that’s interesting.

So is the fact that there’s now a willingness that seems to have been lacking for some time now to take the gloves off a little, that’s a positive development. Couple that with issue and policy development and it could prove interesting.

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Steve V said...

These ads are getting coverage on all the major news outlets. On CTV, the ads are part of the half hour rotation. The amount of free media is staggering, and will easily outstrip the actual expenditure. Couple that fact, with fueling the prorogation further, not to mention the Liberals assuming the lead, and it's a complete win/win.

Don't react to news, make news from time to time.

JimBobby said...

There's an interesting quote on leadership by Harry Truman: "Find a parade and get in front of it."

Iggy and the rest of the opposition need to get in front of the virtual Pro-Democracy parade that is gaining participants by the 1000's daily.

wilson said...

"Find a parade and get in front of it."
Here's hoping that parade leads us right into the voting booth!!!

Big Winnie said...

Wilson: do you not have a mind of your own or do you still like to spout talking points?

Gene Rayburn said...

Big Winnie, Wilson is more like an Atari 2600. The Cons just put the cartridge into her console and she just parrots their lines.

Tof KW said...

That's funny, the reformatards like wilson still want an election?
Think it's majority time do you?
In the immortal words of Clint Eastwood "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?"