OTTAWA - Federal Liberals are moving swiftly to capitalize on public outrage over Conservative attempts to rebrand the government of Canada as "the Harper government."The most effective attack ads in my mind do a few things:
They've produced a radio ad that will begin running Saturday in Quebec, expressing shock at the Tories' effrontery in equating the government with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"Like you, I am profoundly shocked," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says in the ad.
"It's totally unacceptable. The government of Canada is not the government of Mr. Harper, it's the government of citizens, the government of all the citizens of Canada."(link)
1. They use humour.
This ad has none. I mean come on! Getting government bureaucrats to refer to Government of Canada as the "Harper Government"?? How narcissist is that? It has to be worthy of at least a couple wisecracks. This ad is just missing a huge big honking opportunity to make Harper, and his supporters (including myself) feel like sheepish over obsessed buffoons. I remember when Paul Martin did this I think I may have laughed myself.
2. They aren't personal, they're policy based.
Really I don't know what to say over this criteria. I don't find the issue of how government employees refer to the government as a pressing policy issue. I suppose it is technically one.
I would think that the Liberals would want to use their money towards something better... Say an attack ad on the Tory handling of the Economy? Maybe an attack ad on "Conservative Broken Promises..." - Because we all know their were none of those (Ahum!-Income Trust).
I don't know I'm throwing out wild ideas here.
3. They pass the 30 seconds test.
We've all heard (or are about to hear) about how Canadians spend on average minutes a week thinking about politics. That's minutes for all three (federal, provincial, municipal) levels of government a week. What that translates to is that an attack ad has seconds to get it's message across.
Far too many political operatives interpret this information as meaning that their ad's message needs to be focused, clear and quick. Sure it does but put yourself in the average Canuck's shoes for a moment.
Every day the average Canadian is bombarded with information at all times. Canucks, like we all do, apply a filter to appropriately manage their time. Which is why politics takes so little of their time.
What's more important: Bev Oda's alledged forging of a document denying funding to an obscure religious group, or making sure that credit card bill gets paid?
What's more important: Obsessing about a power point presentation sent by a minister accidentally to an opposition MP, or cleaning up that monstrous mess left by your 14 month old who refuses to give mommy or daddy a break?
The true 30 second rule, is this: can you convince a parent, just home for 10 hours of work, has ten other things to do of financial or personal value in the same night, that this issue is important enough for them to care about it?
Does how the government of Canada refer to itself in name take precedence over doing the dishes, changing those diapers, paying those bills, asking for that raise, getting a new doctor, doing your taxes, getting the oil changed, fixing that furnance...
In short NO.
That's why this ad is a dud.