Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Election '08 Ad Watch: Bad Actors LOVE Harper

The first election ad is now airing (I saw it twice on Toronto TV over the weekend) so it's time to roll out my first recurring election post series - a review of Election '09 Election '08 commercials. I'm hoping to post similar reviews to all the election ads that appear during the campaign.

Initial Reaction: I know it's hard to find an actor willing to work for the Tories these days but would it have killed them to do a few more takes so that people sounded almost sincere?

Ad Intent: Revive the "Tim Hortons" myth that worked in '05/'06, soften up Canadians on Harper, and set things up for the eventual framing of the election as being all about leadership.

Tag Line: "Strong leadership on your side"

Things That Work: The girl at the end hits out of the park with the "I'll be voting for the first time and I'll be voting for Stephen Harper".

Things That Don't Work: Sweater vested and smilling Stephen Harper looks like he wants to steal my soul.

Grey Power: Is it just me, or did they dye Harper's hair grey to make him look "wiser" in this ad?

Cliche Counter: 4 (Guy with tool belt and pick-up truck to show he's hard working "average guy". Children on playground. Veteran with medals. Two visible minorities.)

Grade: B-

Reader Grade:

How Would You Rate This Ad?
See Results

SCHEDULING UPDATE: This ad aired 4 times last night during The Daily Show/Colbert Atlantic Canada feed I was watching...looks like a heavier East Coast media buy than the Toronto one to me.

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  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Mike514, at 8:10 AM  

  • What's with the shaky camera? It's a bit ironic, considering Man-With-Pickup-Truck says Harper's the "steady hand we need." Um, yeah, and how about steady hands for the cameraman?...

    CG, how about a Nausea factor in your ratings? The moving camera would add a few points here.

    By Blogger Mike514, at 8:12 AM  

  • Stephen Harper as a smile like a shark; it just doesn't work outside of a nasty context.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 8:25 AM  

  • Harper is smiling at the last actor. She wants her first time to be with Harper. Yummy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:30 AM  

  • Well I was really on the fence, but the blue sweater vest sold me. Have you ever met somebody reckless or evil that wore a sweater vest? Though if you think Harper is just another politician, think again. Harper showed me that he understands my concerns because he didn't wear a suit. If he had gone with a shirt that had some hint of flannel, that would have convinced me to donate to his campaign.

    This one also gets high marks for its recognition of the diversity of Canadian working stiffs. There is the auto worker AND the pickup truck owner.

    Also, it was a good move to have the woman talk about crime. While I don't have a wife or kids, I plan on having a hot wife in the future. I want to know that we will have the draconian security measures we need, to keep my hypothetical family safe.

    I do have some concerns. I want a Prime Minister that can make token appointments of all minorities, but this ad just features East Asian Canadians. If this ad had a Sikh, it would be a slam dunk for me. It would remind me of the Air India thingy, of which I just remember that terrorism was involved. The Liberals were probably at fault.

    Also I wasn't sure why the guy in the blue suit (with a grey moustache) was supposed to make me like Harper. I would prefer if maybe there were some text at the bottom describing the speaker like:
    Joe Green,
    old person

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 9:03 AM  

  • I rate this a 'D'. People do better stuff on YouTube with the built-in camera on their laptops for god's sake.

    Harper's a good PM and a smart person - this ad doesn't convey any of that. All the people are phony - are they actually actors, or real people feeling shy on camera? I'm not sure. But for all the money the Tories keep saying they have for an election, surely they can do better than this.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:21 AM  

  • The last girl said "...and I'll be voting for Stephen Harper."

    Funny message for an official ad, 'cause unless she's in Harper's Calgary riding, she can't vote for him.

    Ads are normally pretty careful to say "for X's team" or "for the X party." Not this one, I guess.

    Maybe Steve actually considers the public's parliamentary representatives as puppets and numbers for himself.

    By Anonymous Mark, at 9:27 AM  

  • Last time, they timed it wrong. They were left with $1.3M to spend with zero spending limit left at the end of the campaign. So they had to break electoral law to get the money out there.

    This time, they're smarter. They know exactly when the election will be called, and they know exactly how much money they have, so they can start spending at the right time to make sure that when the election comes, they only have the amount of money they're allowed to spend.

    It's really a much better strategy, that doesn't violate the spirit or intent of any election laws. Except for that law that says the government shouldn't get to pick when the elections are.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 9:28 AM  

  • "So guys, how can we make Harper less scary?"

    "Maybe give him a cat to pet?"

    "No, that'd be too Doctor Claw-ish"

    "Have him shaking little children's hands?"

    "No...wait...I've got it. Put him in a blue sweater vest! Nothing screams 'I have nothing to hide' like a blue sweater vest!"

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:32 AM  

  • Think the word "Conservative" will ever show up in any ads?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:50 AM  

  • I thought it was a little better after seeing it a couple times.

    But I seem to recall another leader of another conservative party running in Ontario last year on the campaign of strong leadership and putting his name before the party. I wonder how it turned out for all those John Tory candidates.

    By Blogger Bailey, at 9:52 AM  

  • bailey,

    They are featuring Harper, for better or worse, because the choice they are trying to frame the election with is
    "Do you want Harper, who is a strong leader and also a regular hockey dad, as PM, or do you want Dion, who is a weak leader and an effete snob?"

    Except in Quebec where their message will be "Des cadeaux pour tout le Quebec!"

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 10:04 AM  

  • Here's my advice to the Conservative Party, oops--Harper's Party: Get rid of the actors. They sound too fake. Talk about your accomplishments with shots of them in the background. Please, do not have a woman do a voice-over of those accomplishments. She will sound like a bad actor. I've heard your women in Conservative commercials. They sound like that they are faking it--their sincerity that is, not their or****s. Grade C

    You may want to do an attack ad against Dion. Just don't make them cheesy with the Dion's arms held up in the "What?" position. Don't personally attack him. Let someone else do it. Again, no cheesy woman's voice found in cheesy Conservative commercials. Sorry if I sound sexist, but that voice doesn't work for me. Maybe there is a better woman's voice. Just let the background music tell the story how Dion is going to hurt farmers, truckers, and fishermen with his new tax. Include visuals, words, and a few voiceovers from a man.

    By Anonymous , at 10:09 AM  

  • oh my god somebody help us out here in Atlantic Canada. You mean it's not being played during every commercial break everywhere else in the country?

    People who don't even follow politics are complaining around here because it's on so much. As I said on another blog comment.. it's becoming like that song on that commercial during the Olympics.

    By Anonymous me dere robert, at 10:14 AM  

  • What, no comments about the milf?

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:17 AM  

  • Do you love the colour green? Do you love it so much that you like to wear it and have it the background of everywhere you go? Do you like to pose unnaturally throughout the day because you think the models in the Sears catalogue underwear section look cool? When you wake up in the morning, do you choose your anonymous businessperson persona to wear? Do you hang around at playgrounds despite the fact that you have no children and this is obvious because your breasts are so perky? Do you like to hang out with your spanky new pick-up wearing your spanky new toolbelt without any actual tools in it?

    If so, you could be a stereotype. And Stephen Harper loves you. He loves you so much that he is willing to sloooowwwwwly turn his head around, but stop just short of actually seeing behind him. He even wears sweater vests for you.

    What a guy! Vote Harper.

    By Anonymous Junebug, at 11:38 AM  

  • The most ridiculous part of the ad for me was the guy who says: "I've never felt so proud to be Canadian." Ooookay, bud. Given that Harper's foreign policies have consisted entirely of attempts to emulate the policies of the most unpopular US president in history, I think it's safe to say that's a stretch. Even for an actor.

    As far as Alberta coverage goes, I've seen this ad in a prime-time slot on the Food Network (seriously), and that's about it. So it's probably safe to say Alberta will be excluded as usually from most campaign efforts.

    By Anonymous ch, at 11:53 AM  

  • It's a typical Canadian political ad. Poor production value, bad acting, token minorities, and a cheesy shot of the leader.

    Dalton McGuinty had that formula down pat last October.

    It's pretty standard fare, if you ask me. Nothing flashy, but it drives home the point.

    As an aside, can there be any doubt that the Conservatives will frame this election about leadership? As they should. Dion performance in leadership polls is nothing short of abysmal.

    By Blogger sir john a., at 12:05 PM  

  • anon @ 9:50 a.m.

    The word "Conservative" is in this ad.

    So ... I guess the answer to your attempted smart ass question is yes.

    Nice try.

    By Blogger sir john a., at 12:07 PM  

  • The only thing the blue sweatervest is hiding is the freshman fifty Harper has put on as Prime Minister.

    Jokes aside,

    The ad is about framing and the Tories clearly plan to run against Dion instead of running against Harper.

    This strategy is different than the previous one they used in 2005-6 when they ran against the Liberal Party.

    It gets a B from me because of its lack of originality. It does accomplish what it sets out to do.

    I could be like Gloria Borger tho

    OMG everything gets A+

    I wish she was my journalism prof christ CNN is becoming painful to watch

    By Blogger Antonio, at 12:15 PM  

  • I say we compare it to the Liberal television ad.


    There's no ad?

    Well, while not wanting to spike the cliche factor, something is better than nothing!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:22 PM  

  • Somebody pointed out that pickup truck guy may have been Tweek's father -- who often gazes longingly toward the sunset as he muses about an uncertain economy and what leadership would better drive Canada into it.

    Stephen Harper. For those who want to live in a coffee commercial.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:29 PM  

  • Anonymous @ 12:22PM said...

    I say we compare it to the Liberal television ad.


    There's no ad?

    hey when we're through comparing election ads being played before an election can we compare environmental plans?

    By Anonymous me dere robert, at 1:36 PM  

  • saw this ad several times in

    where does this blog originate?

    By Blogger art, at 1:40 PM  

  • Why is including non-white people in the ad considered cliché? I wouldn't have thought that non-whites appeared frequently enough in any ad to be considered clichéd.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:50 PM  

  • He really does have a ghastly smile doesn't he? I wonder how many takes there were.

    By Anonymous ace, at 1:53 PM  

  • Harper can't smile.

    Ergo he shouldn't be smilling in TV ads.

    Just show him with a beer and nachos watching least it would look genuine and it would get the same message across.

    By Anonymous CW, at 2:28 PM  

  • You think the stupid director could have thought, "Hmmm, maybe, just maybe, we should put tools in pick-up guys tool belt."

    I mean it's a set right? It isn't like there isn't a hammer and a few screw-drivers available.


    By Blogger lance, at 3:16 PM  

  • What are the odds of Chretien + Martin doing an ad together completely obliterating this idea that the Conservative party is better with our finances?

    By Blogger MERBOY, at 4:05 PM  

  • merboy:

    Probably about the same odds as Canadians actually believing the man who oversaw the most vile misappropriation of public money in Canadian history.

    By Blogger sir john a., at 4:29 PM  

  • It seems some have forgotten that the "unslick" ads worked last time for Harper. The unslickness is intentional.

    Disclosure: I think all the parties, their policies, and their leaders suck at the moment.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 4:34 PM  

  • "Maybe give him a cat to pet?"

    I'm amazed the CPC doesn't use the kittens more! If an outfit hired me to do their publicity and they had a leader that fostered orphan kittens, I'd be like, "Guys, here's the answer to your prayers!"

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 4:53 PM  

  • sir john a. said...

    "Probably about the same odds as Canadians actually believing the man who oversaw the most vile misappropriation of public money in Canadian history."

    With the previous incarnation of the Liberal party the good far outweighed the bad... I honestly wish I could say the same about our current government.

    By Blogger MERBOY, at 6:17 PM  

  • So are these people actors? What about the vet? What does DND think about medals being used in a context of an election ad -- especially by an actor?

    By Blogger escapegoat, at 8:19 PM  

  • I know you'd much prefer the ad where Dion says that he didn't really mean what he outlined in his Green Shift, and that farmers really are a Charitable Institution or some such. Or maybe an ad for a fundraiser for Dion's debt (and he isn't alone) from the Liberal leadership race? Is that the ad you're waiting patiently for?

    But really, what's wrong with this ad? It captures the true feelings of millions of Canadian voters, at a time when the Opposition leader has said he will not allow the current Government to serve until the attempted fixed election date in 2009.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 10:07 PM  

  • Actually they aren't even real bad actors. They're fake bad actors who are Tory scumbag lobbyists.

    Hey National Press Gallery! Let's see if you can still do that journalism thing!

    The dude in the moustache and tie who says he loves Canada is none other than Tory lobbyist John Weir. Business partner to another Tory lobbyist, convicted criminal Jaime Watt. Find out more about him here:

    Or you can just go back to felating Jason Kenney. Choice is yours.

    By Anonymous Bastard out of Stettler, at 10:38 PM  

  • Oh man, are they all non-actors? I was like, "Man these people are terrible at their craft"... I guess they do really mean what they say, though - they're just feeling a bit shy and awkward on camera.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 12:16 AM  

  • After seeing that ad 8 BILLION times on CTV's website I'm left wondering if CTV stands for Conservative TV.

    By Blogger MERBOY, at 12:34 AM  

  • If memory serves, a Daily Show/Colbert Report ad spot on CTV in Atlantic Canada costs about $ may be a bit more now. Perhaps they're bombarding because they can?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:46 AM  

  • It's actually pretty smart to run the ad on atlantic CTV. With time shifting, I'm sure quite a few people watch that feed at 11 for our dose of satirical news instead of watching our local CTV station at midnight. It probably reaches as many people as the (presumably) more expensive ontario feeds.

    By Blogger UWHabs, at 12:19 PM  

  • There are three new ads over at the Conservative Party Website. All three have the blue vest. And I'd say all three up the cheese factor but at the same time will work.

    By Blogger Bailey, at 1:25 PM  

  • I've seen this ad on YTV of all channels late at night. I guess they are trying to tap into the age 8-14 voting bloc that is largely ignored by other parties.

    By Blogger Justin Tetreault, at 3:05 PM  

  • I saw the "hockey dad" ad where Harper is talking about his son at least 3 times last night during the Daily Show & Colbert Report, and I'm in Kitchener-Waterloo. So I don't think it's just an East Coast thing.

    By Blogger saphorr, at 3:55 AM  

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