Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ad Watch: The Best of Elxn41

Over the past month, I've asked you to rate election commercials. I've gone back and calculated the mean grade for each, and will now count down the top 5 ads of the election.

You'll notice the following are all NDP or Liberal commercials. The Greens' clever "change the channel" spot comes in at number 6, but out of the 17 ads I asked you to rate, Tory commercials finished 10, 11, 13, 14, and 16.

I think that's more a product of who was rating the ads than their quality. After all, Patrick Muttart's micro-targeting likely hasn't identified readers of Liberal blogs as a key Conservative voting block.

For the record, I think the Just Visiting campaign and the subsequent series of Tax Attacks against Ignatieff were, hands down, the most effective commercials of the entire (pre) campaign.

But the voters have spoken and here are their top 5 ads of the election:

5: Health Risk (Liberal)

In terms of production values, this was the best ad of the campaign. It's got great visuals, great audio, and the heart monitor creates a real sense of urgency. It goes after Harper on an issue that is important to voters.

The only knock on it would be that it doesn't give anyone a reason to vote Liberal. It likely didn't help that Ignatieff wasn't talking much about Liberal plans for Health Care on the ground while this one was on the air.

4: Going after the Tim Hortons Crowd (NDP)

Like the previous Liberal ad, this one also attacks Harper on Health Care...but from a completely different direction. It uses cartoons, it uses a specific example, and it ends with Jack giving the NDP alternative.

It's hard to say which strategy is better or worse, but the end result was a nearly identical grade for both.

3: Contempt (Liberal)

I suspect if I had people rate all the ads today, this one wouldn't crack the top 10.

This commercial was released pre-writ when everyone (at least everyone in the blogosphere) was wound up on the contempt ruling and the scandal of the day the Tories were serving up. Those issues went nowhere quickly during the campaign.

2: Family Care (Liberal)

This was my personal favourite. It humanized Ignatieff and helped him connect with voters on an emotional issue many Canadians have gone through themselves. Moreover, it showed the Liberals had a plan to address a problem.

It certainly wasn't as flashy as the other two Liberal ads above, but ads don't always have to be flashy to get you votes.

1: Just Jack (NDP)

This ad and the Imagine follow-up are exactly what you want to air to close the deal when your party is surging. It's feel good, it shows momentum, it gives the final voting pitch.

Most notable is how Jack-centric this ad was. The commercial focuses exclusively on the NDP leader and shows him talking about how "I will hire doctors" - not how "we will hire doctors". All this was likely wise since, after all, people voted for Jack, not the NDP.

So you can mark down "NDP" on your scorecards for the best ad question on my election pool.

I still need to pick a "nastiest" ad of the campaign and, truth be told, I'm torn. The Health Care spots above were unfair to Harper, as was the NDP's jab at Ignatieff's voting record. Then you have basically every negative commercial run by the Conservatives this election, attacking Ignatieff and Layton on coalitions, phantom IPod taxes, and even Ignatieff's loyalty to Canada.

In this flaming cesspool of negativity, it's hard to pick a "winner", so I'm open to suggestions in the comments section.


  • Agreed that the nastiest one could be Tim Horton's - very dishonest to blame Harper for a hospital design decision made by a (NDP) provincial government.

    The Liberals "Health Risk" (#5) is also quite nasty. Very dark, very negative, and also very dishonest. Absolute power? Quotes from 2002? And one misattributed quote? Suggesting health care has been cut, and by 11 billion?

    As for the dirtiest Tory ad, the one with the GST cut was the worst. Not a quote from a speech, or the House, or from the platform, but an out-of-context sound bite from who-knows-when-and-where.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 5:22 p.m.  

  • Wow! your readers are biased. the best ad by far with the most impact on the election was the cartoon of Ignatieff and the blackboard with his absentee record.

    That ad after the debate zinger is why the NDP started to soar and when the Liberals tanked.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:53 p.m.  

  • Anon 5:53 pm - Really? Jack is moving into Stornaway based on attendance records? I hope, for the sake of the NDP's long-term success, it was something more than that.

    I'm with Robert - it was the GST hike threat ad. But you skipped the Francophone ads this year. I understand the NDP French ads were pretty good, and I know nothing about the other three parties in French.

    By Blogger Don, at 7:22 p.m.  

  • That last NDP ad had a lot of people cheering, but I still think this one was way more effective:

    (Then again, I'm part of the "internet crowd.")

    By Blogger Jae/Jennie, at 8:53 p.m.  

  • Trudeau 'undecided' about Liberal leadership

    By Blogger JimTan, at 9:40 p.m.  

  • Anybody but Trudeau. We'll continue the slide. We need to take our time and find just the right guy. I expect in four years, they'll be looking for Harpers head. Layton has a bunch of misfits on his team. So in four years, they'll be looking to us to form the Gov't. Why don't we wait a couple years and as the rot penetrates the Hill, maybe some more credible candidates will come forward. BUT NOT TRUDEAU.

    By Anonymous Cole, at 10:26 p.m.  

  • I agree with anybody but Trudeau, however, I don't think people will be looking to the Liberals to form a government in 4 years.

    1. Weak NDP incumbents will lose their nomination races. Since the NDP label in Quebec looks like a real meal ticket, the NDP can attract some talent.

    2. The Liberals are broke as hell. Their fundraising is weak, their membership base is down to about 34,000 people, and the per-vote subsidy is about to be cut.

    3. Jack Layton will get far more time to speak in the House, and far more attention from the press. He is now the Prime Minister-in-waiting.

    4. Parties represent coalitions of interest groups. Even though corporate/union donations are limited, there are still important power-brokers outside each party (eg. for the Tories, Quebecor and the oil patch come to mind). Many of the groups that backed the Liberals before are likely to turn to the Tories and NDP. They will be difficult to win back.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 12:44 a.m.  

  • If you can't figure out why those ads just suck then the LPC needs more than a 14 step program.

    HINT - Canadians aren't stupid and we recognize a put up job, outright lies, innuendo and cheap political smears when we see it.

    Worse than the "Guns in Our Streets" ad and that was pathetic . . . especially the dorky music.

    Maybe you guys should start with a 12 step program or some kind of detox herbs.

    You no longer understand where Canada has gone, where Canadians are at and that we don't care for smart ass progressive types telling us what to think.

    We can think for ourselves.

    Free advice I am sure you will ignore.

    By Anonymous Just an ordinary Canuckistani, at 5:21 p.m.  

  • The worst ad was that one the Conservatives put on Sun News.

    By Blogger MERBOY, at 11:37 p.m.  

  • Well, I do not really imagine this is likely to work.

    By Anonymous comprar un yate, at 3:05 a.m.  

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