Thursday, March 13, 2008

NDP/Tory, same old (negative advertising) story

As mentioned yesterday, on Monday evening I ventured downtown for an all candidates debate for Toronto-Centre ahead of Monday’s by-election.

While there, of course, I was handed and picked-up all manner of political brochures and propaganda. And the similarities between two of the hand-outs, both from different parties, was quite striking.

Here’s the first one, from the campaign of Conservative candidate Don Meredith:

He’s going after Stephane Dion, no surprise there.

Now lets look at a brochure from NDP candidate El-Farouk Khaki:

Looks like he’s campaigning against Dion too. What’s that you say, Stephen Harper? He’s the Prime Minister? Who’s that, never heard of him. Liberals bad!

Actually this is unsurprising again, the NDP have been mainly running against the Liberals since the last election campaign, and every day since. This is no doubt a preview of their campaign strategy for the general election too: soft-play Harper, go hard against Dion and the Liberals. Khaki very nearly parroted the Cons' "not a leader" line too.

It’s just amusing to see that, not only to the NDP and the Conservatives have the same attack lines, their brochures are so similar I’m not sure who is copying who.

On another note, Bob Rae called out both the Cons and the NDP at the debate for their negative campaigning, while complimenting the Green Party’s Chris Tindal for his positive, issues-oriented campaign. He also accused the NDP of distorting the photo of Dion they used on the brochure to make him look worse, a charge Khaki denied.

I’ve zoomed in on the pic in question, take a look and let me know what you think:

It looks a little blurry to me, but I’m not sure that it’s been distorted or photoshopped. It’s certainly an unflattering photo, but c’est la guerre. So I’m not sure I’m sold on Bob’s charge.

*Forgive the creases on the scans, the brochures were folded and stuffed in my pocket for the subway ride home.

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Steve V said...

It's hard to encapsulate a leader's persona in just one picture. Dion's photo does look odd, but if Layton wants people to know what he is really about, I really think this one would have been a good choice. Pretty much says it all.

Greg said...

To be fair, the Liberals are doing their best to live up to NDP propaganda.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Of course the NDP are running against the Liberals in Toronto-Centre. They held the seat until it was vacated, and currently have the big star candidate. Why would they run against the Conservatives, who have no chance in hell of winning that riding?

Mike said...

Yes, to be fair to my old party, its not the Tories who are the front runner in that riding, is it?

Of course they are going to go after Dion and the Liberals. As Greg says, that they Libs keep living up to the NDP Propaganda isn't the NDP's fault...

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I'm confused about why this is even noteworthy, actually. Don't you always run against the front-runner? Jeff, can you explain?

Anonymous said...

Also note that the campaign literature for Meredith and Farook are very centralized. Both attack Dion and puts their party leaders in a positive light: Harper and Layton. You may get the impression that they both went to the same designer.

The Grits in the Toronto seats naturally focus on the candidates themselves. Bob Rae and Martha have strong profiles that can overcome some of the troubles the party is having in.

Jeff said...

IP, what I found most noteworthy was the strong similarity between the NDP and Conservative brochures. Basically the NDP swapped out Harper and put in Layton. It's like great minds thinking alike, except for the great minds part.

The negativity was also quite a contrast from the Liberal and Green brochure.

As for don't you always run against the frontrunner, indeed that's true, but I'm going to wager we're going to see these brochures in every riding in the general election, and I'll ask you then if you'll agree the Liberals are the frontrunners at that time...

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Eh, I'm not seeing the big deal. They're both playing on the same weaknesses of the front-runner. Sounds like normal campaign strategy to me. I'm sure the rest of the brochure, where they talk about their own strengths, is quite different.

In any case, I'm working on Linda Duncan's campaign in Edmonton-Strathcona right now. We've had one brochure out already. Believe me, we're not running against the Liberals, who are nowhere here. Methinks you've got a bit of an Ontariocentric perspective there, my friend.

Burton, Formerly Kingston said...

Jeff, your absolutely right you have called the main thread of the general election. The CPC will be all over the LPC and so will the NDP. Both parties will need the soft right and soft left votes to progress. The LPC has put themselves in the position, how the heck they get out of it. Now that I do not know my friend. They have given both actually all the other parties lots of good propaganda to work with.

Gayle said...

IP - Linda Duncan will win next time, because people who live in her riding, like me, are always debating which is the most strategic vote. The only reason she lost last time is because a lot of people thought the liberals had a better chance.

She certainly has my vote.

That said, I remember very clearly the big debate between the liberals and NDP last time around was about which candidate had the best chance of unseating Jaffer, so I know there is a lot of campaigning against each other.

MississaugaJoan said...

Let's face it, Dion is right now a bigger target than the Liberal Brand.

The Dion that we voted as leader has miserably underperformed and has shown a lack of vision, while unfulfilled expectations that the grassroots would be consulted/heard have been replaced by the realization that we had been hoodwinked.

The Sponsorship Scandal hurt the Liberal Brand, and Dion hurts the Liberal Brand.

I am beginning (still not completely there) to fear that Canada may at the end of the day, be actually better off with a government led by someone other than a weak, and direction-less leader (Dion).

northwestern_lad said...

I have to echo what others are saying, which is you campaign against the front runner, not the 3rd place going on 4th place candidate for the government.

As for your praise of the Greens, isn't it interesting how so many Liberals were attacking the Conservatives had kind words to say of the NDP, crying conspiracy and such, but somehow it's alright for Rae to lavish praise on the Greens??? Hmmm... Interesting... I wonder if that was a part of the May-Dion deal???

RuralSandi said...

So, the NDP are asking if we rather vote for the purposely distorted photo or a man with a porn star mustache?

Jeff said...


Methinks you've got a bit of an Ontariocentric perspective there

Well, if you were running against the Liberals in Alberta I'd question the NDP's sanity (more than I already do ;) ). Anyway, we'll see in the general but I'm reasonably confident, that as part of the big money campaign Jack has pledged to run, we're going to see this same model accross the country. I just hope they vet their speeches with their Conservative opponents so they don't accidentally use the same lines.


While I'm not pleased with Dion these days either, I'll be even more displeased if one of the geniuses whose supporters have been sitting on their hands and feeding anon. quotes to the media replaces him. Dion may not be the answer, but honestly I don't see a better solution at the moment. The problems go deeper than the leader.

Cam, I'm not praising all greens, I'm praising Chris because I've met him, he's good people, I think he'd be a great MP, and if you were at that debate you'd have agreed he did a great job. And I didn't say anything about Harper's praise of the NDP, although I'll say now I think his motivations are quite clear to us both. As for Bob's motivations, I'll leave that to Bob.

ch said...

The NDP and COnserversatives are both using the same tactic -- using an unattractive, goofy picture to reinforce their not-a-leader slogan. Both the NDP and CPC websites are often plastered with the same goofy shrugging picture of Dion. It's their style.

COmpare this to the Liberal website, which uses a medium picture of Harper. Not his best one, but he still looks professional and reasonable. Certainly nothing like the climate-change photo of Harper (where his belly is prominent and he looks smug and arrogant). In fact the Liberals could find lots of bad photos of Harper if they wanted to. Looks like they picked one to try to subtly teach the NDP/Cons something (as it is a pose which subtly mocks the shrugging picture they both (over)use of Dion.

It is best to attack your opponent's actions, not their looks or poses or mannerisms.

northwestern_lad said...

Jeff... my apologies, that shouldn't have said "your praise" it should have been "Liberals". As for Chris, i've met him, he's a nice guy, he's smart and passionate, I won't say different. I like the guy, and I won't say that he wouldn't be a decent MP, but knowing El-Farouk the way I have gotten to know him over the past 6 months, I'm convinced that he is the right person for the job. But that's just my opinion.

By the way, thanks for pointing to the motivations, as that was what I was driving at.

ch said...

I see the NDP website now also has a very unattractive photo of Harper, in blue. I guess they use a advertising firm which resorts to this.

I find it interesting that Bob Rae picked up on this (women are often more sensitive to attacking someone in this inappropriate way) although I would expect Dion to be sensitive to this.

I don't particularly agree with Rae's distorted comment, it is simply a too-close angled shot that would make any face a bit odd, but it was picked for the goofy smirk-look and indirect eyes, as well as the unflattering too-close shot. I imagine they purposely choose not to use the shrugging photo they have used so much on the web, as it was obvious they just copied the Conservatives.

A PR guy who is working with a local Liberal candidate said they will definitely not be using this approach as he considers it sleaze advertising.