“Everything is a matter of choice.
Everything is a matter of political will.”
I was asked to help make some videos for the NDP Leadership showcase, by Guy Caron’s campaign team. The work that followed was fun and rewarding in a way that I hadn’t experienced in some of the partisan political work I had done in quite a while. The collaboration was unique in that I was trusted to make three pieces… A creative partnership in without the obfuscation of institutional or organizational silos or micro-management. They just trusted me to do what I do. And, that was pretty awesome.
The turnaround for these pieces were very, very short. We shot the videos on a Friday afternoon and evening. Just two days before they were to be featured in the showcase and broadcast online and nationally.
I started by drafting outlines of the three videos and we re-worked the showcase run, breaking it into three acts, each one lead into a segment and a new endorser/speaker. The core idea behind this was to build the showcase pace… Open with a handshake, progress into some head nodding and foot tapping… Then close, with a banger.
I had originally pitched the videos in the showcase to work chronologically. Similar to the “Convictions + Leadership” showcase from the NDP’s 2013 policy convention. The first piece being a historic lens, the second being present day campaign and the third being a future gazing, an answer to the question “what does a Guy Caron lead NDP look like?”
As things tend to happen when you’re working reflexively, things started to change in the assembly. I also had a general re-thinking of using a chronological cannon to contextualize Guy as a leader and a person, it felt like the wrong way to approach telling his story for this showcase.
After the showcase was wrapped, I was able to contribute more and write and co-write copy and build out the pages for the website and emails, to engineer some of the posts for the videos. As well as, do a modest micro-targeted ad buy and write a one-off email leading into October first ballot of the Leadership contest.
“Who is that Guy?” / « Qui est ce Guy? »
“Who is this Guy?” is a snapshot of Guy Caron as person and the values that drive his actions.
The email and page copy for this one was unique. It was a little outside the campaign’s tone. But, matched the tone of the video. The team did a solid pass on the edits and reigned it in to match the campaign tone, while preserving the intention of the tonal shift.
“We are built to work together.
Our future is bound up in the hope we share
and we must be relentless in our pursuit of our shared dream…
A Canada where no one is left behind.”
Guy’s NDP leadership debate performances had a couple of key moments that triggered my re-thinking. Specifically, one in which acknowledged that he wasn’t the most well known candidate, and early on kept hearing “Who is that Guy?” So, I followed that thought. And it became the first piece, which I felt served as a much better handshake than the history piece that I had proposed open the showcase.
“Our Guy” / « Notre Guy »
The second of three videos made for the Guy Caron for NDP Leader Campaign… In “Our Guy”, Guy narrates us through his origins from University activist and community leader to the 2-term MP that is helping define the voice of the New Democratic Party from coast to coast to coast.
The copy I had drafted for this went too far outside the existing voice of the campaign. My original draft was marked up with questions and notes, all asking questions about what might be right and what I thought might be useful. Reflecting my uncertainty about the tone of it. I do however like what I wrote in it, and perhaps some of it will find it way into something else down the road, but it was useless for this piece at the time. And the team was wonderfully patient in taking the time to even consider it.
“This video tells the story of my experience
and how it has well prepared me to be the next NDP Leader.”
In a revisionist haze I didn’t want to lose the ‘look back’ piece about where Guy has come from. It was better placed after the introduction, after the handshake. You know, now that you’ve met him and know a little bit more, let’s flesh out his backstory, but focus on connecting his backstory, to his values and his thoughts on leadership. How he himself wants to connect people that share the same values and are all motivated to affect change, but also how to best enable them to work confidently, inclusively and optimistically together. Which is something that not just members, but voters, supporters and donors need to hear.
“I like that Guy!” / « J’aime ce Guy ! »
This is the banger. A bombastic and unapologetic banger. A video built to punch hard, be an indictment of our foes and to light up the room. Lead excitement into the showcase denouement, to prepare the room and the nation for Guy.
This video also features my favourite quote of Guy’s.
Everything is a matter of choice.
Everything is a matter of political will.
The showcase videos and the content I got to produce was developed around the basic idea of moving away from the safe and institutional presentation the party has passively adopted. At some point they lost a will to be bold and throw punches.
The leaders, the MP’s, the candidates across the country all share the same motivations, the same values and all want to the same success. It is the leader’s’ role is to show New Democrats how to bravely be who they are and win. That quote from Guy’s campaign launch is brave and I think was overlooked by many.
The first draft of the copy I wrote for the email and for the website was intentionally long, but featured some more plays on the Trudeau Liberal false flags. Using their own hashtags to satirize them (as many Dippers do these days). I also pushed buttons to specifically tie-in some of Guy’s acknowledgments of past New Democrat leaders and statements about the party’s values being unwavering. Like this video, the copy needed to be pointed, decisive and firm. And, it was also exceptionally long… The edits kept the intent preserved. Pointed, decisive and firm. All relating back to an observation I has made back in June of 2017.
I saw Progressives and New Democrats fawning over Jeremy Corbin in the same capacity that they had about Bernie Sanders the year prior… I wrote a blog piece about a key learning that I still feel is missing from most political communications and marketing from the NDP… (Click to read it all).
“Tell a New Democrat story. Be unapologetically partisan, speak strongly of values laid out in the constitution, the ideas in the platform. Supporters know the leader, the party and mission, speak to them, always speak to them. Be defiant about media misappropriations and the ideological applications of information. The deliberate limitations in what facts are represented to best mythologize their truths… Simply put, less systemic/strategic marksmanship and more relentless self-truths.”
Everything is a matter of choice.
Everything is a matter of political will.
“Thank you” / « Merci »
The weekend leading up to the first ballot results announcement on October 1st 2017 was an important one for sure. I had an idea for an email appeal that was a motivational stewardship piece, still a solicitation. But a humble message to motivate.
The copy I had drafted for this went too far outside the existing voice of the campaign. My original draft was marked up with questions and notes, all asking questions about what might be right and what I thought might be useful.Reflecting my uncertainty about the tone of it. I do however like what I wrote in it, and perhaps some of it will find it way into something else down the road, but it was useless for this piece at the time. And the team was wonderfully patient in taking the time to even consider it.
“And, I love who we are.
I love who we can become.”
The idea behind it was to make supporters, voters, donors feel appreciated, that they’re being heard. It was also a throwback to Guy’s campaign launch speech where he spoke about how the economy is a social project that we all own and participate in. And to say that better is not only possible, but it’s ours if we stay passionate and work for it.
The other thing we did in the week leading into the first ballot was a modest Facebook ad buy, but one using micro-targeting. The buy was only going to be for “I like that Guy!” our banger video, but the early data wasn’t what I’d hoped. It was hovering around industry average numbers. And given the content, the message and the audience build, I felt that “average” was under performing. So, I split the buy and ramped “I like that Guy” down, while pushing “Our Guy” instead. Which was the right call, the audience response was what I was looking for and the engagement numbers, clicks and so on were all up, up, up.
Mostly though, I had left Ottawa and left working politics, largely because it is an industry that can break and build your heart in so many unique ways that change you, for better or worse, in most cases both. But, I had left and felt a little sour about some of my experiences.
However, my experience on this campaign were good… It gave me a positive chapter to put into my own story and a little shine back on my malformed little heart. I was gifted that through having the space and trust from the people I was working with. Though I wasn’t part of the campaign for a long time, I was felt privileged to have the time I did.
Here is the “Thank you” email copy…
We’re here at the summit of this campaign and are that much closer to victory.
And, it’s because of you.
Now, before online voting ends… I wanted to take the time to thank you.
Thank you for your time, your passion, your participation and your support.
Together, we are attracting a lot of new eyes to our ideas, our values and our party. People are seeing not just who I am as a candidate, but who we are as a movement.
We are showing Canadians that our economy doesn’t belong to the backrooms, the “Cash for Access” lobbyists or naysayers. It’s a townhall for you, not a private party for them.
I recently said, that I believe we’re at our very best when we are a community, a family. That means we are staying relentless in our fight against inequality, exclusion and injustice.
Together, that IS who we are.
And, I love who we are.
I love who we can become.
So, if you haven’t already, join me.
If you have, then please tell everyone you know, together we will win in 2019!
Because of you.
With a full heart and much love,