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Ontario Liberals Kick-Off Advertising Produces Mixed Results
20/01/2003
No provincial election has been called yet in Ontario, but it is starting to smell like one. The Ontario Liberals today made a bit of news by launching a new, pre-election advertising campaign. You can download the two spots from their website. The first ad features leader Dalton McGuinty speaking to the camera, leaning against a tree while snow falls. It is shot with a handheld camera, and therefore opens blurry, and remains slightly shaky with bad colour. I don't know if this approach is the best idea for building McGuinty's image. Here's a reconstruction of the script:
SUPER: Dalton McGuinty DALTON: People hear me say that I'll fix our hospitals and fix our schools and yet keep taxes down. Am I an optimist? Maybe. What I'm not is cynical, or jaded, or tired. I don't owe favours to special interests or old friends or political cronies. Together, we can make Ontario the envy of the world, once again. And, I promise you this, no one will work harder than I will to create that Ontario. SUPER: Liberal Ontario Logo
The second ad cuts between shots of Dalton speaking to the camera (visibly reading cue cards) and footage of him working in his office -- sitting dejectedly in a chair, looking at his laptop, welcoming people coming to his office for a meeting, and then participating in that meeting. Here's the second reconstructed script:
SUPER: Dalton McGuinty DALTON: I learned a lot growing up as one of ten kids. I learned the value of a dollar. I learned to look out for my brothers and sisters. Let's do what we know needs to be done. Let's fix our schools and hospitals. Let's protect our environment. Let's keep our taxes down, put our humanity up. Because, when all is said and done, we're all in this together. SUPER: Liberal Ontario Logo
Looking at the two scripts, the strategy is clear: emphasize a commitment to deliver on key issues underplayed by the Conservatives -- schools, hospitals, environment -- while continually reminding the viewer that the Liberals are as capable as the PCs when it comes to maintaining fiscal responsibility and low taxes. On the side we have jabs meant to imply that Eves, Harris, and the gang are high on corporate cronyism but low on human compassion. All in all, not a bad approach. Where it is weak is in terms of execution, primarily visually. Dalton looks far from "Presidential", especially in the second ad. Why is he lowering himself into his chair as if he has had a very long, disappointing day at the office? Why isn't he made to look more important in the meeting, rather than looking thankful that a bunch of classmates decided to drop by to work with him? Why, for that matter, does he look like he's meeting with a bunch of MBA students? The content of the ads represent a good start, but more needs to be done to build McGuinty's leadership credentials. It seems that rather than helping, his image masters are hurting his cause.
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