Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Phase Two

The Conservatives have launched "phase 2" of their summer campaign with four new TV ads. I must say, as with most things Harper does, the intent is really good: They're talking policy and highlighting the supporting cast of MPs. Here's my synopsis of each ad, with the mandatory sarcastic jabs thrown in:

Health Care for All: This one features Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose...no doubt to show that talking about health care can be sexy! Harper concludes by saying "that's the plan, and it's time Canadians knew it"...Unfortunately, we don't actually hear the plan during the add. They mock Martin for being vague in his "fixing health care" and don't say a single thing about how they'll fix health care. Yeah, it's a 30 second spot and most people will be glad to simply gaze at Peter and Rona for most of it but I would have preferred a little more detail.

Choice in Child Care: This is my favourite ad. It features Rona again, and this time she's joined by Helene Guergis. Watch this add and pay very close attention to Helena - while she doesn't say a single word during the entire commercial, she does a convincing job of nodding approvingly at everything Stephen and Rona say. But that's alright, I don't expect Jessica Simpson to say a lot in the new Dukes of Hazard movie either and it will likely still be a hit.

Lower Taxes: Harper is playing economics professor in this one, but when I pause the video on his flip chart, I can't for the life of me understand what it has to do with taxes. It looks like a blue line and a red line randomly drawn. I sure hope that's not the chart Harper used to conclude that "the average Canadian family earns no more today than they did twelve years ago". Jim Prentice and Diane Finley also appear and, along with Harper, they engage in the kind of real life dialogue previously only seen in life insurance commercials.

Opportunity for new Canadians: Rahim Jaffer (or his assistant, playing Rahim Jaffer) appears and perfects his "Helena nod" for the last half of the add. Monte Solberg is going to be really pissed that Bev Oda made the cut to appear in these ads and he didn't.

Like I said, the "spontaneous" dialogue is a little weak but far better than last year's ads of Paul Martin speaking to the horrified group of average Canadians in his kitchen. The Conservative position is portrayed as being very moderate so I don't see any harm in commercials like these. And, hey, Stephen even ditches the tie in three of the ads!

Update: The Globe & Mail critic weighs in...sounds like we're pretty much in agreement. Craig Cantin and Political Staples both offer fairly positive reviews as well.


  • Ya know, the nice thing about these ads is that they all APPEAR to have been shot in the same location within about 10 minutes of each other (plus or minus however long it took for Stephan to change clothes, which incidently, is NOT what Canadians meant when they told pollsters he needed a makeover) and for very little money. That appearance of frugality may play well with voters who believe the Liberals are wasting their money.

    On the immigration spot, I find it hilarious to note that the Conservatives pulled out all the stops to highlight two of the three members of their visible-minority caucus who still have any credibility (the Grewals and Inky Marky being the other half), thereby showing that the Conservatives are a welcoming party, and have a place for immigrants, which is definately the message they want to get out. The other option - "the Conservative Party: now with only 87% white guys!" - didn't poll well in focus groups outside of Alberta. Also, I enjoyed that they passed over the eight other imigrants in the CP to put Bev Onda (born and raised in Thunder Bay) in the spot, which is I guess to say that Conservatives think its more important to LOOK like an immigrant, than to actually be one.

    --Matt O

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:08 p.m.  

  • Good comments. The flip side to this argument is that the commercials appear amateurish and that might hurt with the desired perception that they are ready to govern. One would think that with the CBC on strike they would be able to find a cameraman who could hold the thing still (I realize it was intentional but it drives me nutty).

    So here we have a Liberal praising the ads and a Conservative being critial. What's going on?!

    By Blogger ferrethouse, at 4:29 p.m.  

  • Quebecharpermaniac says:

    Can't wait for the Grit ads to come out:

    More guns pointed at our heads. More industrial gulags.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:46 p.m.  

  • HAvent seen em yet, don't watch alot of TV anymore, but i will keep my eyes open, from your description they don't sound too bad....

    By Blogger DazzlinDino, at 6:39 p.m.  

  • Ok CG, I'll admit the Jaffer joke was funny. :)

    I prefer "ad" rather than "add".. either way, I think they're a step in the right direction.

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 7:16 p.m.  

  • People are still watching TV?

    By Blogger Mark Richard Francis, at 7:53 p.m.  

  • hmm...i think they can improve on the "lower taxes" ad...

    By Blogger AT, at 11:27 p.m.  

  • "More guns pointed at our heads. More industrial gulags."

    Remember the girls holding their legs crying in what looked like a hospital waiting room? I do believe the voice over said something about Harper being SCARY and taking away women's rights but if you had the sound off, it just looked like a regular night in the ER.


    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:38 p.m.  

  • The Stepford Wives (Rona Ambrose and Helene Guergis) nodding in agreement and gazing beatifically at their "man" leaves me cold.

    Otherwise; just puff, but not too annoying, so I guess that's better than nothing. But I don't count on television marketing campaigns to inform any decisions I make, anyway, especially when it's a campaign that's indistinguishable from a group of people talking about how great a new cleaning product is.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 a.m.  

  • It's Patrick he took out life insurance!

    Good for you son!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:04 p.m.  

  • Actually, I think Guergis has the line when the camera is outside, but I agree that it should seem a bit more obvious(no matter which of them has the line) - but I think we all know that you can't say very much in 30 seconds, especially with that stupid "Approved by..." line at the end. Oh well, they're generally effectrive and they convey the right sort of message. I can't complain.

    By Blogger Alex Sloat, at 12:25 p.m.  

  • I agree that the quality of these ads is pretty poor, the cut-in and cut-out camera work and often stiff, rather stilted responses to Harper. The worst was the Tax Ad, as Harper looks to one and then the other of his "team". My gut impression was that he looked "shifty". But hey, I guess I'm like a lot of other Canadians who feel he has cold, even cruel eyes. How superficial can we be? Well, actually, very when it is an advertisement. My advice, get this guy some hazel contacts immediately!

    The slogan "Stand Up for Canada" was something they've been using since May (when these were filmed, yes prior to Belinda's departure). With the recent trade disputes around soft wood and some angry talk from the Liberals, along with Chretein's snubbing of the US invasion in Iraq and Martin's similar response to Missile Defence, I think this slogan is all wrong for the Conservatives.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:58 a.m.  

  • I can definitely relate to that. Before considering much else, I pretty much decided that Canadian immigration is my best option and although I have been tempted to reconsider from time to time, I can't help but think about how much the 2000 elections have changed things for us (and not for the better I'm affraid).

    I really enjoy this blog, I'll be back!

    By Blogger James Raymond, at 3:32 p.m.  

  • Help! I am lost. I was searching for private health insurance plan
    and somehow ended up here. How that happened I don't know, however I do like your Blog a lot. Would you mind if I add your Blog to my favorites page so others can visit?

    By Blogger Tom Naka, at 3:38 a.m.  

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