Saturday, September 06, 2008

Election '08 Ad Watch: Jack Attack

Initial Reaction: The NDP attacking the Tories rather than the Liberals? Nice for a change...

Ad Intent: Attack Harper directly on the "leadership" question. I presume this is part of the NDP strategy of painting themselves as a more effective opposition than the Liberals.

Tag Line: We Need a New Strong

Things That Work: Jack sounds good at the end - this was a rare occasion when I didn't feel like punching him in the face.

Things That Don't: Some of the connections Jack tries to draw are weak: "Destroying the environment while you pay record gas prices"...huh?

Cliche Score: 2 points (1, for the subtle US flag. 1 for using drum music in an attack ad. )

Grade: B It's an enjoyable ad and it's a clever way to attack Harper, but it's debatable what it really tells people about the NDP.

Reader Grade:

How Would You Rate This Ad?
See Results

Previous Ads: See the softer side of Steve, Bad actors love Harper

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  • It's a clever ad attacking what Harper is trying to paint as his strength. It gets across the point that strength means nothing if bad policies are the cause of it.

    By Blogger Oxford County Liberals, at 10:35 p.m.  

  • I liked the ad. The non-hyperbolic tone of Layton's voice was a refreshing change. Like you, I normally am put off big time by Layton's trumped up indignation and bluster. But in this ad, he's tolerable and shows some class. Also liked the emphasis on NEW at the end, as in NEW Democrat.

    As for your and others' remarks about lines like, "Destroying the environment while you pay record gas prices" ..., all political parties do it. Frankly, they're stuck between a rock and a hard place, aren't they, in terms of expressing hot-button complex issues in a 30 second ad? It can't be done.

    That the Harper government is responsible for further destruction of the environment IS true once one factors in their elimination of certain programs, reduction of the effectiveness of the EPA, their muzzling of senior public servants and consultants, and their lack of environmental legislation steered to reining in industrial polluters.

    Overall I'd say, Good on the NDP! Glad to see a quality ad come out of their campaign - finally.

    By Blogger Chrystal Ocean, at 10:47 p.m.  

  • Semi-subliminal US-flag on the one hand...

    ... on the other, it's in blue...

    ... and the odd, atypical stress pattern in the words "New Democrats" hitches Jack Layton to the Obama wagon.

    By Blogger WJM, at 12:54 a.m.  

  • The only thing New about the New Democrats is wait...nothing is new about the New Democrats

    By Blogger Anthony, at 2:23 a.m.  

  • I didn't think there was supposed to be a connection between destroying the environment and higher gas prices, other than that the NDP would solve both and Harper hasn't bothered.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 8:07 a.m.  

  • This is a very good ad - and very hard hitting for the NDP. If Layton is trying to galvanize the anti-Harper vote around himself, this is certainly going for gusto.

    Also - is it just me - or is the female voiceover on the ad the same voice from the infamous "In our cities. In Canada" Liberal ads from '06?

    By Blogger ALW, at 8:12 a.m.  

  • live in peace with my ionic air freshner

    By Blogger hairi, at 10:15 a.m.  

  • Chrystal said: reduction of the effectiveness of the EPA

    I thought the EPA was a US organisation?

    Harper reduced the effectiveness of an American agency? Wow, he's more influential than I thought...

    By Blogger Mike514, at 10:19 a.m.  

  • "...reduction of the effectiveness of the EPA.."

    Uh??? When did Harper inject himself into US domestic policies? I must have missed that one.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:41 a.m.  

  • The ad has a cheap feel to it, like a highschool video project. There is no sophisticated editing.

    By Blogger James Bowie, at 10:46 a.m.  

  • Let me guess Bowie, you thought Heath Ledger sucked as the Joker too..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:25 a.m.  

  • james - Compared to most political ads in Canada, I thought this one was pretty well put together. Lots of movement and changing shots - I give it good marks on production value.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:57 a.m.  

  • I agree with CG on the moving around - it was well put-together.

    However, I also think it is a mistake for the NDP to attack the Conservatives. I get what they are trying to do - present a contrast of Layton vs. Harper, so that Layton looks like the real leader of the opposition. Here is why it is a bad idea:

    1. If you want to stop a Conservative government, voting for the Liberals is the natural step. This add amplifies yellow-dipper (my word for all those people I know that say "I like the NDP's values but I am afraid of the Conservatives so I always vote Liberal" syndrome. Even if you hate the Liberals, both the Bloc and Greens are yet another left-wing alternative to the NDP. This may even be true in NDP-Conservative ridings - "strategic" voters are notoriously stupid, and often "think national and act local" which means voting Liberal in Hamilton, BC, the Prairies or Halifax, where the NDP is the stronger opposition to the CPC.

    2. The NDP has tried to present itself in the past - with some success - as the only party willing to compromise and get things done, rather than add to acrimony.

    3. These are mostly the same attacks the Liberals have been using since 2004 - I am not sure why they would work this time. They also increase Layton's negatives among those disposed to vote for Harper - and there are some NDP-CPC voters.

    4. Dion will run attack ads anyway - his threat to run a "clean campaign" is simply not credible.

    Attack ads on Harper provide a "public good" to the left-wing parties - in general making voters more likely to vote for them, and less likely to vote Conservative. However, the Liberals, as the main alternative to CPC government are going to be the biggest beneficiaries of this effect.

    Secondly, Dion has few policy distinctions with Harper, and can't exactly bank on his winning personality. The Green shift is a rather dubious platform to run on, making an anti-Harper campaign Dion's best bet.

    Layton should focus on the quality of life issues that all of the other parties tend to underemphasize, to hold on to his core of support, and leave the negative ads to the Liberals.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 12:24 p.m.  

  • Hoosier, why on earth would Layton want to consolidate his base? The historical NDP base is too small, and Layton wants to be Prime Minister. He needs to expand his base, which means taking the initiative, which means going on the attack.

    Attacking is good for the NDP.

    By Blogger leonsp, at 1:59 p.m.  

  • "I'm Jack Layton. Of the NEW Democrats."

    Huh. So he's serious about the "hey, Canadians already think they're gonna vote for Obama, might as well lure them into believing that I'm a Dem too."

    Aside from that, good ad. Very good ad. "Built with Flash" ad, but in some ways even better for it.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 2:10 p.m.  

  • Bowie: cheap works, if it still looks good. That looked good.

    You also don't need sophisticated editing in what was essentially an animated ad; that would actually be quite jarring.

    (And where did they dig up that picture of Harper? That's ominous, it is. Makes him look like a supervillian. Or a dictator. Or Cheney.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 2:15 p.m.  

  • I thought it was clever.

    But if we were to put a halt on oil sands development, that would put a cut in supply . . . and lead to higher gasoline prices. High gasoline prices are the key to curbing the end-user's addiction to driving to work alone, or making unnecessary trips to the corner store in their car. Linking the gas prices to environmental damage is a fallacy.

    By Blogger AWGB, at 2:42 p.m.  

  • leonsp,

    You don't expand your NDP base by going after people voting Conservative, but rather by targeting Liberals.

    Also, is it just me or were the drumbeats kind of reminiscent of "soldiers with guns"?

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 3:29 p.m.  

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