Well here we are, in our last 24 hours or so of federal election-less peace, before we are plunged into the 44th general election in Canada just as the fourth wave of COVID takes off. As I have pointed out elsewhere, this is an election that we don’t need and it seems that it’s coming, whether if we like it or not. We’ll see in the week or so to come how that fact goes over with the majority of Canadians.
In the meantime, part of my gaze can’t help but turn to some of the campaign tradecraft that we’re starting to see roll out; campaign advertising. There is an art to a well-done campaign ad and the opposite is true of those terrible ones. We all have seen examples of both over the years, and as we get ready to deal with another one, two examples of this jumped out at me over the past 24 hours. First, lets get the bad example out of the way because folks, it’s epically bad:
Look, I had a colleague suggest to me that maybe I’m not the target demographic for this ad released on social media, that maybe it’s more targeted for the youth. That’s potentially possible, but I’d argue that if it is, if you made a ven diagram of those who thought this ad was funny and those who like Pepe the Frog, it would nearly be a perfect circle. Putting aside the hacky graphic work, this ad is downright offensive to the senses of way too many people. I’m it’s not just people on my side of the political fence saying this. Add these notable conservative voices to the chorus on this one:
You’ll note that three of those replies come from current, sitting Conservative MPs, ones who are still running in this upcoming election. They usually aren’t the type to say things publicly on such matters, let alone so clearly slap their own team down on such garbage, yet that’s just how bad that video is. Yet it shouldn’t come as a total shock give that the same team that brought you that video also brought us this shining example from earlier in the year:
Yep, we all remember this cheap piece of hackery, coming right after an ugly and misguided rant on “cancel culture”. I’d note that while both of those cringe-inducing videos were panned widely, both are still up and available for everyone to see, which just puts a cherry on the top of this crap sundae of a bad example. Yep, it’s just that bad. But for an example of good, let’s turn to the Nova Scotia election, which will be wrapping up on Monday, just as Canadians start federally. This video came across my social media a few days ago and it made an impression on me, of the good kind:
Everyone, meet Tammy Jakeman, the NDP candidate for Nova Scotia riding of Eastern Passage. This is an ad that her team put together and folks, I like it. We all have a friend or know someone in our live who has that dry, passionate attitude and when they get going, the language gets more colourful and less PG-13. That was exactly what came to mind for me with this ad. In it, Jakeman covers a lot of policy ground and induces a lot of required beeps, which stands out.
But it’s the way that she does it that I think if most effective. Anyone can swear, but how you do it can really make the difference. These aren’t angry, ranting, foaming at the mouth curses. No, these are more like swears of exasperation and frustration, of someone whose been through a lot this past year and isn’t in a position to self-censor and clean things up. If you ask me, that sounds like a lot of us right now and how many of us are feeling.
In that sense, it feels very much like an ad that captures the mood of the moment for so many of us. Yeah, we don’t want to swear or be difficult, but it’s been a bloody hard year and more. We’re at the ends of our ropes and we just don’t have that usual patience in reserve to say things in a way that we normally would. We don’t have the patience for the usual political BS, like that Conservative ad above. And when you put these ads together side by side, the first ad kinds of justifies the sentiment and cursing in the second.
Now I’m not suggesting that Jakeman’s ad will push her to victory on election day, but it’s a great example of working with your subject and reading the mood of the moment to good effect. But for the Conservative ad, that is the kind of ad that could sink them before the writs are even drawn up. That ad is so tone deaf, so childish and so off-putting to so many people, you can’t come away from that thinking the party putting it out is the least bit serious, let alone an option to govern. That Conservative ad is the polar opposite, and the fact that it is still live on Twitter tells you just how much they either don’t get it, or just don’t give a damn. That’s pure political malpractice, the kind of which gets you the results that such work earns you.