Since the campaign is now over… Some unsolicited options on what I thought was missing from the NDP’s marketing.
A lack of Soul
The ads were over-written and tried to infuse that “I’m just like you” messaging, which deadens personification. Actively drawing parallels between politician and electorate in the first person cheapens policy message. Let other people talk about the leaders roots.
The lack of soulfulness is also the direct result of the corporatization of the ‘message.’ Simply put, ‘too many cooks.’ Instead of the small risk-taking team in 2011 that shaped the messaging there we levels of managers, micromanaging the message and losing the ability to takes risks and to even generate original content reflexively. The shift in the messaging that occurred in 2011 happened because the team was able to pivot, but maintained consistency in the message, despite the shift that happened around the platform launch, mostly because the shift happened within the scope of the parties core values
“Tom’s Story” ad,
for some reason labelled “NDP VIDEO”
Failure to launch
On the key issues and messaging about their opponents, the New Democrat campaign failed to capitalize on some very massive weaknesses. Letting Stephen Harper’s poor judgement on Duffy/Wright/Novak affair out of their grasp. And, mostly the Liberals, with C-51, the Liberal leaders own appalling QP and Vote attendance. In 2011 the Ignatieff’s record in the House became a big part of framing the Liberals decline. It marked a shift that was referenced earlier in the parties platform launch comms materials and the English language debate itself. Leaving those key planks out of the fray and letting the Liberals side-step their own record. A lack of explainer materials on C-51, a microsite, a video with series of sharable graphics, prewritten Facebook and Twitter updates citing specifics about what Canadians lose with C-51. And, this also leans into the Liberals support of it. Too many missed opportunities to bury the Liberals under their own duplicitous means.
The non-existent ad buy, I am not sure where the strategy was. Where ads were supposed to be seen. I am sure there’s some focus group data showing why spreading the buy out over all these other places will accumulate more viewers and influence more voters over the life of the campaign. No, having some good ads showing during the Jays playoff run, during Hockey Night in Canada and other events is key. Especially having a couple explainer pieces about the Trudeau Liberals support of C-51, or the Liberal leaders awful record in Parliament. In 2011, the party paid for a YouTube take over that saw 9 million views of the parties end game ads, all you see is Trudeau striding towards the camera telling you about “Stephen Harper not liking him.”
All of the speeches I saw Tom give were over-written. And his ‘jabs’ at opponents had no bite to them.
Here are two ads… They’re about the same thing. The one on the left is the “NDP ONLINE AD” made for #Elxn42. The other is the unused 30 second edit of the “Affordable Childcare” video I made from the Policy Announce prior to the 2015 Election. The one for made for the election features a beat red Thomas Mulcair very obviously reading from a poorly placed tele-prompter (or iPad with an App) nearby the camera he is supposed to be making his direct address to. The one on the right uses the very coherent policy announcement, cut with footage from the same event of Tom touring a local daycare and gleefully engaging with the kids.
Side X Side
“NDP ONLINE AD: Affordable childcare”
The unused “Affordable childcare”
A program of policy specific explainer materials, like Childcare, like the $15 minimum wage, like the Pharmacare program. Explainer videos featuring the MP’s whom would likely be the cabinet minister, or the previous critic for the file… There was a bit of this with Andrew Thompson, but not enough. How about for instance, the Cap & Trade program explained by Megan Leslie & Anne Quach? The Aboriginal Affairs platform explainer presented by Niki Ashton, Romeo Saganash and Charlie Angus? The $15 Minimum wage presented by Peggy Nash, Alexandre Boulerice? The $15 a day childcare program explainer presented by Nathan Cullen and Ruth-Ellen Brousseau?
The NDP has the strongest front bench in politics, I don’t care who the Liberals or Conservatives trot out. They were totally not used. And with a leader running his first campaign, it would be essential to reinforce the identity of the party with a strong second chorus. Those benches are rife with talent, experience and wisdom.
The materials were beautifully designed, technically proficient, the events were STUNNING. By far leagues above both eh Liberals and Conservatives. The shots were always immaculate.
It’s disheartening to say all this, but I’ve been holding my breath on materials about C-51, Trudeau’s Parliamentary record and some more abrasive materials about the Harper Conservative PMO corruption. I’ve been waiting for some form of material that has the passionate dialogue you hear in the breath of New Democrats day-in, day-out. But, the parties message was washed out and the efforts to personify Tom were too literal and as a result were overselling.
The NDP team is an incredibly talent group of people, but in preparation for this election they went a little too kung-ho in distributing managerial duties across too many people. Especially for their communication and advertising products. The result was a series sterile ads that failed to diffuse the purpose of profit of an NDP Government lead by Tom Mulcair.