In the Conservatives quest to gain impressions for their message in the news — paired complimentarily to the media’s quest to sell newspapers and television advertising — new election-style ads are out from the party.
The Conservatives are explaining themselves saying that while they are focused on governing, if Michael Ignatieff is going to loudly and shamelessly beat the election drum, they have no choice but to respond.
When partisans release YouTube videos, the media doesn’t particularly notice. When there’s a party tagline on YouTube videos, the media sits up and wonders if these ads are going fill the gaps between stories of fake news Stephen Colbert mentioning Canada’s name thus meriting mention on the real news (CTV only) and stories of a reporter retiring (CBC only). Yes, will television networks merely repeat the ads as earned media in their newscasts or will they see the party buy some paid media?
I suppose the question will be answered if there’s an actual election. For the most part, these YouTube vignettes are election-ready. We have the full slate: the positive ad, the varied attack ads vs Ignatieff and the region-targeted ads about Jack Layton that will run in BC, and in rural Ontario, Saskatchwan and Manitoba markets. In French, there’s the ad against Gilles Duceppe being too “Montreal” (another cosmopolitan in our midst?!) and one that delightfully uses the wisdom of Justin Trudeau against Ignatieff. Interestingly, we also see the theme of illegal (cladestine?) immigration come up in French where unbeknown to many, polls higher as an issue in Quebec.
The move is a wise one for the Conservatives. The earned media juice will be worth the squeeze, and if we end up in election mode in a matter of weeks, the ads are already in the can. Also benefiting the Tories, it further underscores Ignatieff’s stated desire for an election. Speaking with senior Liberals last week, I can confirm that staffers are eager to clear the air and want the same. Canadians tend to punish those who are unnecessarily reckless in wanting power.
If you want to get a sense of the message of the top two parties going into the next election, the rhetoric of late has helped this become clear. The Conservatives argue that they’ve put Canada on the right track economically but the work isn’t finished yet. Also, leadership is a quality they want to emphasize. Further to this, they describe Michael Ignatieff as a charlatan who is only in it for himself, who is wrong on the economy and taxes and who would recklessly threaten the country’s stability with a coalition with socialists and separatists. The Conservatives will emphasize the fact the economy is on the recovery but that it is a fragile one. They will put the positive elements of the recovery in the window while Liberals will amplify their message against spending on “fighter jets and prisons”. For the Liberals, their response has been overconfidently focus-tested in the media and on twitter (fake lakes anyone?) and they’ll argue that the Conservatives have misplaced spending priorities when according to the Grits, the government should be spending on big ticket domestic items like national daycare and national eldercare.
Is there an election in the air, or is Michael Ignatieff simply doing his best to try to pass the task of supporting the government on the budget to Jack Layton? At the very least, the Conservatives are doing their best to prevent Ignatieff from skating through this effort easily. If being bellicose on an election helps Ignatieff save face, the Tories are doing their best to suggest that a coming election (and the uncertain time up to one) is Michael Ignatieff’s fault.
UPDATE: The ad buy is real. This is not just a YouTube campaign. Track the #SawAnAd hashtag for details.
Here are the ads:
The positive one:
The coalition one:
The Ignatieff’s weak connection to Canada ad:
The Ignatieff’s strong connection to America ad:
The NDP specific ad:
The Liberals vs. Liberals ad:
The Bloc specific ad: