05.20.2014 07:18 AM

Ontario: who is a political ad for? (updated twice)

Not for you, highly-informed reader of Canada’s Best-Loved Political Website™.  Not for you, or people like you.

Let me explain. This morning, I heard The First Ever Academic To Understand Political Ads™ on CBC Radio: Prof. Peter Graefe of McMaster said that political ads are for people who don’t pay attention to politics.  They’re a shortcut. They’re designed to be simple.  They’re for the uninformed.

Finally! Finally, an academic who gets it! Yay, Peter Graefe!

Geddit? So, the Ontario campaign’s ban on political spots ends tonight.  But, already, the political parties have telegraphed the themes they will be pursuing over the next while.  Here are they are, below.  I like two of the three.  Can you guess which ones, and why?

And, remember: don’t be an egghead.  Watch ’em, as I always advise, with the sound off – and as Joe and Jane Frontporch would: without much prior knowledge.

UPDATE TWO: Quote from commenter that made me laugh out loud, really loud: “With the sound off the Liberal ad looks like I’m being chased down the street by Graucho Marx.”



  1. Bill MacLeod says:

    OK, Warren, I watched the three ads; middle, top then bottom. Although I’m a bit of a political junkie I’m not from Ontario, so I’m not that far from your Joe Frontporch description.

    I liked the first one, the PC ad, and was amazed to find out it was an NDP ad at the end. The “odometer” is riveting.

    I liked the top one, the real PC ad. Period.

    I got 23 seconds into the bottom one before I clicked “pause”. “Pause”, of course, means “get me out of here.”

    Just my opinion, of course,


  2. Al in Cranbrook says:

    The PC ad is very positive, talks about a better future, and doesn’t invoke the fear factor. Very good production.

    The NDP ad is hard hitting on the current government’s record, but offers nothing about why the NDP would be an better.

    The Liberal ad is pretty much all fear mongering rhetoric, and looks like it was shot with a $200 camera.

    No contest.

    Not even a little bit.

  3. Ridiculosity says:

    The NDP brain trust appears to be suffering from creative atrophy.

    Their spot is a direct rip-off of the “Spend O Meter” BC’s Christi Clarke used during the last election to track the costs of Dix’s election promises.

    The tag line, “Change that Makes Sense”? Way to close to Mike Harris’ “Common Sense Revolution” to make Ontario voters comfortable.

    The only good thing? When it comes to recycling ideas the NDP is obviously agnostic – as they’ve stolen from both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

    • mississaugapeter says:

      It seems to me you are suggesting that replicating success is a no-no, but walking on the street with your nose in the air is good. Election Day may reveal you are right. Or wrong.

      • Ridiculosity says:

        I didn’t say that replicating success is a no-no, I was simply stating that the NDP appears to have run out of new ideas. Both from an advertising and policy standpoint, it appears.

        • Mississaugapeter says:

          You mean all their ideas that were taken by the Liberals and put in the Budget.

          In the worst of times, there is a 40-60 right vs. left split. The NDP just have to reveal that they are the not the “wasteful of your hard earned dollars” left choice, and they should win.

          No new ideas required. No new ideas required like yesterday’s over recycled Ontario Place announcement. That and harbourfront redevelopment have to be among the most over promised and easiest to forget afterwards ideas that every non-Toronto resident does not give a hoot about.

          Anyways, all this is mostly irrelevant until the debate and the resulting last minute decision which left wing bandwagon should be boarded.

          • Just askin' says:

            People instinctively assume the NDP ad is a PC ad. That’s a huge problem for the NDP, and a huge win for the CPC, since it means their branding has made that much of an impact on the general population.

  4. Matt says:

    Well, with the sound off, it would appear the NDP ad is the most effective at getting their message across: Liberals have wasted billions of dollars. I would say the PC ad is second because of the visuals and three simple words: Ontario. Working. Better. Telling the viewer Ontario will be better off under a PC government.

    The Liberals ad would be last. What is Kathleen Wynne trying to tell us? Looks like she’s walking through an abandoned neighbourhood. Is she selling Mortgages on tha abandoned houses? Lawn care plans?

    • Bobby says:

      I can’t stand that moving target stuff. Her running, walking etc. drives me nuts and proves nothing. It has the same effect as Stockwell Day’s jet ski stunt.
      Why are journalists falling for that crap?

    • Mary says:

      I was distracted by the pile of ice storm debris…

  5. I watched all three with the sound off. I have not yet watched with the sound on.

    PC Ad. Effective and positive looking. Woooh, natural beauty. Heyyy, hard-working people. Hudak looks like he’s really listening, and people like speaking with him. Doesn’t he look happy, positive and humbly victorious at the end?

    NDP Ad. Effective and negative looking. Scary how much the Liberals have wasted. Bad Liberals. Punish them. The NDP winning the election is the punishment. (It’s not about how good NDP is, but how bad the Liberals have been. Naughty Liberals.) Well done; not sure it’s the right kind of message on a moral level, but, hey, it probably works. Since the Liberals are likely to have more left-leaning voters than the PC, it is probably a good message aimed at that constituency (the ones who wouldn’t vote PC anyway), to move to the other left-wing party in protest against Liberal waste.

    Liberal Ad. Remember the sound was off. A few seconds in, I’m already bored. That’s a pretty dreary looking street. And a long one. When will it end? And……fade to black. That’s it? Er…

  6. sezme says:

    The first one is probably the most effective because it’s the prettiest and happiest and doesn’t say anything at all beyond “vote for us and things will be fine”.

  7. Okay, I tried to post a comment, but failed. Should’ve copied it just in case that happened. Anyway, trying again.

    I watched only with the sound off.

    PC Ad. Effective and positive. Ooooh, lovely scenery. Ahhhh, hard-working Canadians. Hmmm, Hudak seems to be really listening; and people like speaking with him. He cares, eh. Doesn’t he look happy but humbly victorious at the end?

    NDP Ad. Effective and negative. Aren’t the Liberals wasteful. Bad Liberals. Punish the Liberals. Vote NDP — that’ll show ’em! Aimed, I presume, at left-leaning Liberal voters — asking them to move their loyalty to a party that shares their values (i.e., isn’t PC) and won’t screw them the way the Liberals did.

    Liberal Ad. Er… what a very long cul de sac that is. Does she ever stop talking? Is she talking down to us? She’s still walking and talking. I was bored less than a minute in. And… fade to black. Black. Headlines anyone? Not. so. effective. I wonder what she was saying.

  8. Okay, go ahead and delete the repeated comment (whichever one). It seems to have appeared suddenly.

  9. Swervin' Merv says:

    The Future: Hudak’s “Morning in Ontario” does everything it needs to do: positive vision (without using the word) that people can identify with. So, this guy wants to do some good stuff that I also want.

    The Past: Someone’s voiceover with flashing numbers (what did though numbers actually mean?) about a hockey game? Where’s Horwath? So, I have no idea what I’d be getting with this crew, or what they stand for.

    The Present: Coming right at you (on your street), Wynne telling how her leadership is DIFFERENT from facts about challenger’s wrong ideas. So, this woman seems sincere and not afraid to stand up against things that can hurt us.

    • Swervin' Merv says:

      Update: Friends in Ontario suggest that the largest blocks of voters may fall into two camps:

      1. “Time for a change” (as the polls show), whether you like Wynne or not.

      2. Wynne has baggage but Ontario will suffer if you don’t vote Liberal.

      Take your pick. Should be an entertaining election night, before we turn our attention to the FIFA World Cup!

  10. Bobby says:

    I like both the PC and NDP ads because from them the uninformed voters will learn something new either about their plan (in the case of the PCs) or the other guy via some sharp illustrations and fact (NDP). They’re both better done than the Liberal ads so far. Guess is banking on Working Families to get the job done for her.

    Even the PC’s new ads outing Working Families is going to inform some uninformed voters who may not know or care.

  11. Greg says:

    With the sound off the Liberal ad looks like I’m being chased down the street by Graucho Marx. Walking at the camera is an “in-your-face” threatening thing to do. It works for Rick Mercer because he’s ranting when he does it.

  12. Ty says:

    Wynne ad fails the gym/bar test, terrible without sound. Also a bad idea to qualify your speech like that, a layperson doesn’t care about the distinction between issue/personal attack.

    PC one shouldn’t mix Hudak with the regular folks, should only have the speech in the suit. Great scenery. Really tough to find an Ontario identity, that’s probably the closest a political party can get.

    NDP ok, too much (and bad voice for) narration, some words under the counter would have helped.

  13. Peter Mumford says:

    The Wynne one made me feel I was being accosted by a particularly strident Jehovah’s Witness.

  14. ian turnbull says:

    Maybe the liberal ad is just a tease? When the full version is aired, it will show the camera pan out and Wynne chasing Godzilla out of the neighbourhood. That would explain the fallen tree wreckege earlier in the scene.

  15. Al in Cranbrook says:

    First sign that an incumbent government is up s***creek?

    When they can’t/won’t run on their own record, but instead set out to smear everyone else.

    This is hardly flattering…


    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      That should read, “…falsely smear”.

    • Jim Keegan says:

      Another sign that the Ontario Libs are up the creek is the dearth of the die hard, fanatical Liberal posters in this forum when it comes to discussion of the Ontario election (unless WK is withholding their posts, which I doubt). The writing is on the wall and it would appear as if they have given up.

  16. Matt says:

    We’ve made our guesses Warren.

    Which one’s do you like and why?

    • Warren says:

      Same as you guys. I think the PC ad is an effective positive, and the NDP ad is an effective negative. The Liberal spot looks like it was shot on an iPhone.

  17. Lance says:

    You see Scot, the more evolved amongst us realize that just because someone is your political adversary it doesn’t necessarily follow that they are an irredeemable piece of shit, and that they may be, in fact, a decent human being, political warts and all. Only a base political party hack drone such as yourself can so arbitrarily decide in blunt general terms that while one is “a decent caring individual” whilst “the other two are mere opportunists end of story”, that they simply must be by extension anything but just because they are a different political animals. People like you are exactly what is wrong with politics today.

  18. Jim Gosse says:

    Interesting that the poll that shows the Liberals in the lead doesn’t get any mention on this site. Hmmm. I wonder why?

  19. Paul Brennan says:

    The piece in media today with Wynne driving a tractor is effective… better than a high horse…

    • Matt says:

      Effective at doing what?

      Proving the Toronto elitest Premier only seems to remember she is also agriculture minister and only steps foot on a farm when she is stumping for votes?

  20. Jon says:

    What I just don’t get about the Liberal ad is Kathleen Wynne’s T-Rex arms. She seems nervous about raising her hands to make an emphatic gesture. It comes across as tentative and undermines the authority of her words.

  21. Philippe says:

    Since when do born-grouchy Conservatives try to offer hope and go positive? That’s just weird.

  22. Political junkie says:

    I watched all three with sound off………first one was interesting, lots of visuals which kind of tell a story…..second one, big numbers, but you know what ,people don’t associate with big numbers, now if you said someone tried to claim 25 cents for a pack of gum i.e. David Dingwall, well, Joe Frontporch can associate with a pack of gum!…..and the third one told me nothing, you have to listen to it, and most people don’t listen, they want a visual!

  23. Joe says:

    With the sound off the PC ad won hands down in my estimation. The flashing numbers were annoying and without the sound somewhat out of context. The Liberal one is the strangest one of all. Wynne reminds me of Bob Stanfield and the famous football fumble and the Liberals keep emphasizing it. BTW I really think Hudak needs to learn to close his mouth when listening. He looks somewhat like a slack jawed yokel in the ad.

  24. Geoff says:

    Lib add looks like it was filmed by the same people who filmed Stephan Dion during prorogation. The only difference is that they learned to hold the camera level. Whoever is in charge of their ads should be fired.

  25. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Polls seem to be jumpin’ all over the place, mostly between the Libs and PCs.

    I’m sticking with my prediction: PC majority…slightly modified with “of the somewhat shocking variety”.

    I think this is going to another one of those “how the hell could all these pollsters be so flippin’ far off the mark?” type elections.

    Just my sense of it so far, FWIW.

  26. Nan says:

    I see lots of white men working in the PC ad (strong appeal to the PC base) and believe the campaign is morphing into “girls against the boy(s)” – poor Kathleen – she drives a tractor like a “girl” was yesterday’s message from the farm…

  27. Mark says:

    I didn’t even watch the second one to the end. The message is immediately strong and clear within the first few seconds. Liberals=Waste. Well done Conservatives.

    Wait… what?

    It wasn’t till I read the comments that I realized this was an NDP ad! Had to go back and watch it again. The voice and style is what we now associate with Con attack ads. So while this is very successful as a negative ad against the Libs, it does little to promote the NDP. Keep in mind that people will often only see short bits of these short ads as they channel surf. The impressions that will stick are “Blue Ontario feels good”, “Liberals suck”, and “WTF?”

    • Warren says:

      I think they did it that way because the only Liberal gettable vote is with the New Democrats – and vice-versa. In other words, a progressive tong war is about to commence, starting today. It’s gonna be ugly.

      The PC vote is rock-solid – it’s not going anywhere. Their play will be vote suppression, a la Harper (scandals, waste, blah blah blah) and not switchers per se.

      • Matt says:

        But the PC’s will still need some switchers won’t they? Or at yhe very least some Lib and NDP voters to stay home?

        If some of the more centre leaning NDPers are part of that 72% wanting change Ipsos reported an it looks like their party is way back in third, Hudak needs to get them to plug their nose and put an x beside the PC name. He’ll have to woo some “blue Liberals” too.

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        Scandals, waste, etc, seems to be primarily the NDP message, at least in that ad.

        Are all people who vote Liberal necessarily “progressive”, or left leaning?

        Isn’t there a considerable chunk of Liberal voters who are rather centrist, and don’t measure their politics by a left/right yardstick? The same for which could be said of Conservative voters?

        Some would even call them “Blue” Liberals? As opposed to “Red” Tories.

        Arguably some 20%, give or take, of voters whom have little issue with switching their votes between Liberals and Conservatives? And even more arguably, could never, ever see themselves voting for what they perceive to be a far left, and in their minds, quite socialist NDP?

        Historically, certainly federally, it’s been this centrist 20% that ultimately determine who will be government. It’s why third parties tend to have a helluva time, short of outright collapse of one side or the other of the two main parties, such as we saw with the 1993 election in the rise of both the Reform and BLOC at the expense of the PCs, gaining any traction.

  28. Mark says:

    I finally figured out what the Wynne ad reminds me of: Edna’s Organ Emporium from SCTV

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