Conservative party continues its branding effort
Today, the Conservative party released a staggering six new campaign ads.
The ads fall distinctly into two categories: enthusiasm-baed spots, aimed at encouraging people to feel good about the prospects of voting Conservative, and negative ads, designed to make people think twice about voting for Stephane Dion and his Liberal party.
(Negative ads are considered distinct from attack ads because they address policy points as opposed to the personality points of a candidate.)
For the purpose of analyzing their role in the now-ongoing election, the two categories of ads will be considered separately.
This particular ad takes a page out of the old John Diefenbaker playbook and promises continued efforts to deal with arctic sovereignty.
In 1958, John Diefenbaker campaigned on the issue of arctic poverty and transformed his minority government into one of the most dominant majorities seen in Canadian history (he also followed it with a minority government that survived for less than a year before being defeated by Lester Pearson and the Liberals).
With this particular ad, Harper is trying to re-brand himself and his party as the party that cares about arctic issues. While Harper's campaigning on the issue of arctic sovereignty was a welcome prospect in the last election, Michael Byers and the NDP seized the initiative on arctic issues in the days leading up to the campaign, counter-branding the government as missing the big picture.
Of course, with the United States, a newly more aggressive Russia and other countries trying to stake claim to the Northwest Passage, arctic sovereignty will be an important issue in this election.
With both the Liberals and NDP fielding candidates percieved as foreign policy heavyweights (legitimately in the case of Michael Ignatieff and not-so-legitimately in the case of the aforementioned Michael Byers), the Conservatives needed to stake out foreign policy early in the election.
In this particular ad, Harper simply talks about the need to have "real capabilities" to "contribute to global security [and] humanitarian development".
"This country has to stand for something," Harper insists.
Yet, as a branding effort, this spot may be less effective than the Tories may have hoped. After all, it's one thing to insist that Canada should stand for something. It's entirely another to actually know what that "something" is.
The third enthusiasm-themed ad seems to be a re-branding attempt following an NDP ad portraying the Conservative government's tax cuts as being bad for Canadians.
Harper once again points to "global economic uncertainty" (something that is quickly emerging as a theme of the Conservative campaign), and insists that, while the government has cut taxes, it has ensured that new spending will benefit "ordinary families".
To be able to attempt to brand oneself while simultaneously counter-branding the opposition is an advantage that inevitably comes with having more money to spend than the opposition.