Sunday, September 06, 2009

A few thoughts on the Liberal ads

I posted the videos earlier, but I wanted to share a few thoughts on the English ad in particular in response to some of the commentary I’ve been reading.

Many people have been wondering why the Liberals didn’t go negatively after Stephen Harper with this ad. Others have felt it’s a little bland, focusing exclusive on Michael Ignatieff. Well, I think there’s a few very good reasons for both those decisions.

First, if the Liberals had gone harshly negative in the pre-writ period, after going hard after the Conservatives for doing that, it would have been very hypocritical. And while hypocrisy doesn’t bother Stephen Harper (as long as he’s the one practicing it), I know I for one prefer a little ideological consistency from time to time.

Secondly though, and more importantly, I think going harshly negative right now would be a mistake, and not just because it would annoy Canadians. The negative ads will come, but first we need to lay the necessary groundwork to make them effective.

Negative ads will be necessary, absolutely. Not only to shake loose Conservative votes, but to make the argument to swing NDP/Green voters that we need to unite behind the Liberals to stop Harper. Shaking loose those votes alone though is not enough.

We’ve shook loose Conservative votes before. But we couldn’t convert them because we couldn’t provide them with a compelling alternative. That was the point of the anti-Dion ads, and it’s the idea behind the anti-Ignatieff ads. Poison the well. So, in the end, they stuck with the devil they knew and went back to the Conservatives.

First we need to build-up Ignatieff’s profile with Canadians (I'd argue this is coming a tad late) and get them comfortable with him as a compelling alternative so that, when we shake them loose later on down the line, they’re more likely to decide to park their votes with the Liberals. This ad is just phase one.

We can do negative, and I’m confident we can do it well. We have the tapes too, Mr. Harper. But negative alone isn’t enough. It will come, however. I have no doubt of that.

By the way, with these ads, now all three major English national parties have released pre-writ advertising. And the Liberals, interestingly, are the only ones to release a positive ad. Both the Conservatives and the NDP (with their post-coalition radio ads) went negative, and both of them trained their guns on the Liberals.

Interesting, that, no?

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archivist said...

The other brilliant thing about the ads is that the production style runs in direct contrast to the Fox News shallowness of the Con ads. They are simple, focus on the man and his eye contact with the camera, contain no quick editing or goofy stills or flashes of text. They are not commercials, but messages! They prominently feature the party logo and do not hide it in small font. And, they take the "out of country" argument and turn that into an advantage.
I say well done!

archivist said...

Another thing about the English-language ad. There is nothing to take a shot at! It is a vision statement from a man who has a global perspective. There is nothing to tear down, nothing to target, nothing to find fault with. Finding fault would seem petty. What, Canada can't take on the world!? We shouldn't be doing those things!? He doesn't have a global perspective!? Me too, me too!?

Again, well done!

Dennis (Second Thots) said...

But shouldn't a positive ad leave something to be positive and excited about, especially when you're telling Canadians they need an election they don't want to vote you in. This ad seems to excite Liberals and no one else, and they're the only ones who think we need an election in the first place. So, I don't really know what this ad accomplishes.

Anonymous said...

I like the "West-wingish" music at the end ;).

Seriously, though I doubt it's the most important thing.

I think MichaelB's comments are good, and the second makes a good point that people might not get at first. This is the "Hi, I'm Michael" ad. "I've been around. I believe in reaching out and thinking Big. I believe in Canada. We can do good together."

When the cons sneer egotist is response, it just sounds petty. But then that has been their consistent message all along.

Mark Richard Francis said...

Even just establishing a vague theme can be important, so the ads are at least the right thing to do. However, I suspect they are late. Unfortunately, it's likely an election now, or in the Spring, and the Libs weren't in the money until recently, so starting earlier wasn't in the cards.

McLea said...

Another thing about the English-language ad. There is nothing to take a shot at!

You're right, everything he says in the ad is comprehensively devoid of meaning, tantamount to him declaring himself to be a believer in "love" and "happiness."

But I find it endlessly amusing that Liberals consider this a good thing. "You can't possibly contest his ideas, because he has provided none! Hurray!"

Jeff said...


The ads aren't about justifying an election. First, it's not up to the Liberals to decide if there will be an election or not. It's up to Harper to maintain the confidence of the House, and garner the support of one of the opposition parties.

These ads are about introducing Ignatieff to Canadians. The policy will come later. One step at a time.


Given that every recent CPC ad has been devoid of anything but attacking Liberals, I find that amusing.

But, as I said, these ads are about warming Canadians to Ignatieff. Stick a sweater-vest on him and I'm sure you'd have thought it was brilliant...

lyrical said...

Wait a minute...I knew I'd seen that light blue shirt before - someone speaking about issues.

(If you post this, Jeff, will they make Mr. Dion take these clips down? They're only on his French site - not English. They're pretty good.)