05.25.2015 08:48 AM

The new Dipper and Tory and Grit ads (updated thrice)

The NDP ignores Trudeau, the CPC one is mainly about him.  The Dipper spot tries to be positive, the CPC spot is less preoccupied with all that, but isn’t very mean.  The Liberal one, appended at the end? It’s okay.

All three, however, strongly suggest the election campaign is underway.

First, Team Orange:


  • It’s not bad, but it isn’t particularly great, either. You forget about it a minute after you watch it.
  • The visuals are the kind of stuff political backroomers love – working classy, ethnic diverse-ness, slice of life, blah blah blah. Not original.
  • The soundtrack riff is a direct steal from the Menzingers’ ‘The Obituaries,’ which features the “F” word about a million times.
  • At the end, you can see they struggled with what to do with what to do with Angry Tom. Tie? No tie? Tie loosened? Jacket? No jacket, sleeves? No jacket, sleeves rolled up? Hmm.
  • In the end, his look and demeanour and surroundings reminded me of Assistant Principal Vernon in The Breakfast Club. Not good.

The Blue Crew, meanwhile, have leaked their latest offering…but no one has a link except John Ivison. Interesting strategy.

Anyway, what John tells us about the ad reflects what many hacks already know about the research: no one dislikes Justin Trudeau – it’s just that no one thinks he’s ready to be Prime Minister. (In focus groups, anyway.)

The structure of the ad – diverse group of Canadians passing judgment on the Liberal leader – recalls the Muttart-era “Entitled to my entitlements” diner spot, which was seared on our collective consciousness through a gazillion repetitions back in 2005-2006.

The Harper part sounds like what I had figured would always be his 2015 writ narrative: “Hey, look. They said I’d wreck the place, and do all kinds of radical stuff, and I didn’t. We got through some tough times, we’re keeping folks safe. Oh, and Justin? I like him, too. He’s just not ready.”

If anyone gets a link, please send along. I couldn’t find it anywhere (beyond John’s column, that is). But I suspect that, when I see it, my assessment won’t change too much.

UPDATE: And here it is! (Thanks, folks.)

My take:

  • These guys love research! The statements made by the actors in this ad are taken directly from actual statements made by actual Canadians in actual focus groups!
  • Actually, when you are assessing the ad for yourself, keep that in mind – this may not be what you are saying, but it is what your neighbors are saying. Important.
  • I think the ad will work.  Expect to see it in heavy rotation, boys and girls!

UPDATER: Um, oops.

UPDATEST: And here is the Liberal ad. Same sort of diversity/middle class/family stuff we see in the other ones. Not bad, but not great.


  1. Michael says:

    I saw the NDP ad on Question Period yesterday. My initial impression was that Mulcair did not seem comfortable, that it was forced, less than authentic. It was as if the back room was trying to create the impression they think Canadians want in a political leader. Mulcair just did not look comfortable in his skin.

    I am no political strategist, but I think the NDP would be better to go with the real Mulcair. Maybe not vein popping, eyes bulging Angry Tom, but a kinder gentler version of Angry Tom. He seems to relish his prosecutor in chief role in the House of Commons, and truth be told is good at it. The prosecutor in chief would play well to the NDP base, and could win over enough left leaning Liberals who are not thrilled about some of the less progressive policies of the Liberals and may be having their doubts about Justin’s gravitas.

    • Mark says:

      I agree. Tom feels really awkward here. They did not capture Strength or Passion, which are two of his strong attributes, I think. Everything preceding feels to much like your average generic commercial for financial services or life insurance, and is entirely forgettable. I’m also surprised they took the “middle class” route, as I think everyone is over saturated with everything middle class.

      I think the tory ad is remarkably successful. They dish out a whole series of blunt “negative” statements but they come across as surprisingly honest and earnest, not nasty. Well scripted and cast. I don’t know if the cons have a new ad team or not, but this is a far more sophisticated approach than the tabloid-ish stuff they’ve done in previous elections.

      The Liberal team now face a real challenge, figuring out how to attack against a non-nasty attack ad.

  2. Dave says:

    The visuals in the NDP ad look like un-used stock footage from Conservative Party – er, “Government of Canada” – “Action Plan” ads.

    Probably a coincidence, right?

  3. Matt says:

    Interesting article in the Globe this morning.

    In the Fall of 2014, the NDP conducted an internal poll of 4,500 Canadians and found that most really didn’t know anything about Thomas Mulcair. So they changed their plans to focus on really introducing Mulcair to the country.

    I think that’s what we’re seeing in this first NDP ad. But, as Michael said, he didn’t really look all that comfortable.

    Funny thing too. The NDP see something isn’t working too well, they change strategy. The Liberals see something isn’t working too well, they plow right ahead on the same path.

  4. gyor says:

    I dislike Trudeau.

  5. Matt says:

    Warren, do you expect to see some ad’s from the CPC against Mulcair?

    It’s a bit of a fine line for them, no? They can’t go after him too hard as they need the NDP to be strong to take votes away from the Liberals, but not so strong they lose voters to the NDP themselves.

    • Liam Young says:

      Matt: the second the Cons go after the NDP, they validate their existence.
      ie. Canadian voters will take a serious second look at the NDP and forego the splitting that happens when the ‘protect’ Canada by voting Liberal. And then failing, like they have for the last 10 years.

  6. edward nuff says:

    The ads don’t matter because pigs started flying before they appeared. First Notley and then the CEO of Suncor recognizing climate change. Harper is yesterday’s man, Justin is nowhere man leaving us with one pig yet to fly but in a good way. Even with a lot of help from his friends Stasi Steve and the boys in short pants need to exit stage left and the sooner the better because very few that I know want to hear an encore.

    • Matt says:

      Did you read the whole article where the head of Suncor made that comment, or just his quote.

      Read the entire article. It’s interesting who he thinks should be PAYING the price for carbon. Hint – It ain’t his company.

      • edward nuff says:

        of course they,ll never pay matt but it,s passing strange that oil patch types are peeking out from their bunkers to prempt notley with green wash speeches. I just hope she always reads the fine printh when dealing with these gasbags. Past is prologue.

    • Dave says:

      Of the three major parties, which party is polling higher than its actual share of the vote in 2011?

  7. Peter says:

    Oh gawd, Tom, not the middle class for you too! I’m starting to have recurring Diogenes-like moments where I look for a candidate honest enough to admit he finds the middle class a bunch of bores and really doesn’t have a lot of time for them.

    Surely during the campaign and debates there will be at least some journalists with the moxie to ask these guys to tell us who they think they are talking about?

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      The reality is that both Harper and Muclair are really from the middle class, and Trudeau is not. And you, are a goof.

      Did JT and his entourage really expect Muclair to allow them to run with the middle class schtick? Didn’t they do any research on him? After Warren’s revelation in March, they should have known that the jig is up.


      With his autobiography out late this summer just before the election, Angry Tom will be Middle Class Tom, and he will be a folk hero. The beard will be considered folksy. A story of legitimate working class roots like Chrétien will hurt Liberals right across the country. The commercial is just the start of an effective introduction of Muclair to Canada. Go ahead JT brainiacs, try to stop the tide.

      • Eric Weiss says:

        Exactly. Mulcair has way more credibility talking about defending the middle class than Le Dauphin ever will.

  8. Matt from Ottawa says:

    I saw the NDP ad on QP yesterday, I actually think its quite good. Yes its a bit too cliched in some aspects, but at the same time for those who are not overtly politically inclined such as most of us readers / commenters, I think it will resonate. It does have a similar feel to many of the Ontario Liberals ads from last election. I think its a good into for those that dont know much about Mulcair (like I said, less politically inclined) but not overloading with alot of substance, kind of just dipping your feet in the pool metaphorically speaking.

    I think the CPC ad is actually pretty good, and its a change from what theyve done in the past. Its less vitriol but makes some interesting points ie) the added a pic remark points on Trudeau’s vanity; they treat it like its a job interview, which really thats what it is, but its trying to go for an honest rational approach about how hes inexperienced and just no ready.

  9. Ty says:

    Those sound like actual statements, but they sound unnatural when mixed together as an “actual conversation.” A minute is also twice as long as it should be.

    The positive ad was a lot better.

  10. Mark says:

    Here is the Harper-only ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um1pc0ZpW10
    This is the kind of tone the NDP should have taken with Mulcair. He could have totally played this role in a commercial; strong, committed, serious, show him in some parliamentary office as the leader-in-waiting, etc. I think he has built up the gravitas that it would be believable and would work.

    • Priyesh says:

      Argh. This is the best one of the lot.

      • Michael says:

        Yeah, except they used footage from the mothballed Camaro plant in Oshawa. That’s 1000 new job losses there. Oshawa MP Colin Carrie can’t be too happy that Harper is bragging about how awesome he is against that visual reminder of job losses on his watch.

    • MM says:

      I’m not sure what to make of that Harper ad. It says, essentially, “Deciding is hard but I just do the best I can. Some days I feel like I get it right.” then shows him plodding down the hallway.

  11. Mark says:

    One more observation about some of the subtle visual details the Justin Interview ad.

    They took some care in constructing the visual presentation of his resume, which gets show repeatedly. The “J” logo in a circle is italicized and soft-looking. They’ve used a weaker pale orange-red rather than strong Liberal red. The word “Justin” is large and bold, while “Trudeau” is de-emphasized, again I think an emphasis on youth and inexperience.

    The people in the room? Consvervative blue, and dark tones.

    These are not art direction details that necessarily make or break an ad, but they go a long way to subliminally strengthening the message.

  12. GFMD says:

    The asian gentleman was cringesome pandering, and the lady’s snort made her seem arrogant. It would be neat, though, if the Liberals made an ad that was identical until the “budget’s balance themselves part”, at which point someone says “that was actually something Steve in accounting made up to badmouth him.” The next person says “Steve’s not even an accountant, and all he ever does is make up stuff about other people. I wish he’d get some real work done, and stop wasting company funds on promoting himself.” Camera on first speaker “well, I feel silly making judgments without knowing the whole story. Guess that’s what happens when you put Steve in charge.”

    or is that too inside politics?

  13. Peter says:

    That East Indian guy in the CPC ad is an absolute hoot. In two lines he made Justin an object of amusement, probably more damaging to him than an object of anger or even fear.

    Note they only refer to him by his first name, as if they were discussing choosing a high school class president.

  14. Kelly says:

    Wanna learn how to attack conservatives? Watch how conservatives attack each other. This ad went some way to derailing Gingrich’s hopes of moving into the oval office. A variation attacking Harper would be very easy to make.
    Don’t let the fact that it was produced by the scary Ron Paul’s team put you off. Forget about him. Just watch…


    For what it’s worth both the NDP and Con Ads are laughable. Cliche-ridden, contrived and stupid. Anyone under 50 years old and more than a grade 10 education won’t buy them at all.

    • sezme says:

      Yeah, that’s a pretty good one. I can easily see a reworked version for Harper. Stuff about the Senate scandal and the environment. Now, who would make such an ad, the NDP or the Libs? At this point, I think neither wants to go negative, because they both want to be seen as the positive alternative. If push comes to shove, though, I think it’s a better fit for the NDP who have showed a certain degree of relish in taking down the Conservative party.

    • Chris says:

      Kelly: the NDP ad isn’t targeted to young people or the highly-educated, who will likely not be seeing the ad much anyway.
      The highly-educated set watches Ottawa more closely and has seen some of his performance in the House and in scrums. According to Ekos, the NDP already has a commanding lead among the university educated.
      Similarly, the NDP also has a sizeable lead amongst younger voters. It to older voters that the NDP must appeal for more votes. Given that people are the only ones still paying for cable and watching TV in the traditional manner on the networks, this ad will likely do well for Mulcair. I expect to see it playing in heavy rotation during Law and Order reruns in the coming weeks

  15. jen says:

    Who will be watching these ads?
    If they are being placed on network TV, which is likely, then they are primarily being targeted at specific demographics – boomers and seniors.
    In terms of effectiveness on the net and on social media I am not too sure of the effectiveness. They look very slick and may simply be screened out by recipients who have short attention spans.
    So these ads may be more impactful with older voters than younger ones.

  16. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Mulcair: “I invite you to be a part of it.?! What? Could anything be more unclear?

    CPC: It comes off as phony from the get-go — completed with scripts sounding like warmed over leftovers from the PMO reject pile. It isn’t a job interview. It’s a meeting of your average CPC EDA. Not subtle. Contrived.

  17. Michael says:

    IMO, the young lady in the CPC ad looks a little bit like MP Chrystia Freeland. Does anyone else think so?

    • Matt says:

      Her head isn’t bouncing from side to side acting like a human bobble head, so no.

      • Matt from Ottawa says:

        Lol good one Matt! I swear when I see her interviewed I feel like im getting motion sickness

      • Patricia Morfee says:

        Gee both Matts you should hit the road with your jokes about Chrystia Freeland. You two are hilarious. NOT. Stick to the subject of the article.

  18. .. the CPC ad based on a Trudeau job application is astonishingly weak and juvenile
    Perhaps that’s how Harper, Ray Novak and the rest of the ‘brain trust’ see Canadians..
    That we’ll retain the key messaging.. duh .. Justin is applying for a job
    to us.. yes.. that’s ‘us’ .. that small group in an executive corner office boardroom

    It should be apparent to any Canadian that the entire scenario is complete fiction
    and just a crafty bit of spin with actors to convince weak juvenile Canadians
    I suspect after seeing that ad several or 50 or 250 times we’ll all want to vomit on Conservatives.

    The other ad portraying the late working PM with ISIS footage, bad stock prices etc
    is just more red herring to distract from failure in all Ministries
    failing basic values such as honesty or accountability.. doing what you said you would do for us
    It actually resonates mildly as apology.. like Harper had to do bad things…. because..

    What else to expect from The Government of Overthink & their Ad Agency
    Its a fail.. no surprise.. more noise and spin

    The NDP ad is fine… Obviously he’s not an actor.. but Tom Mulcair..

  19. WDM says:

    My thoughts

    The NDP is fine, it’s okay, but it’s also easily forgettable. There’s lots of time for an attack ad on the Tories from the NDP, so that’s not my quibble, but this ad doesn’t give you enough of a sense of what the NDP would be like in power. A specific nod in there to daycare, or another NDP platform plank would help round out the ad.

    The CPC attack ads are based on a decent premise but don’t hit as strong as they should. No doubt everything in them are lifted from an actual focus group, so they have research to back it up, and no doubt having four people of different backgrounds are done on purpose too, but it makes the ad too muddled. Fewer people may make it feel a bit less cluttered.

    CPC leadership ad is the best of the bunch. Highlights Harper’s strengths, doesn’t try and disjoint it with attacks on his opponents at the same time. That’s the PMSH that can win the election. It’s been nine plus years, they need more than attacks.

    Liberal online ad. The first half is excellent. Light and somewhat humourous (it’s sometimes better to have people laughing at your opponents than hating them), but the last part where the Liberals should their own taglines make it drag on too much. I know this won’t be hitting the airwaves, but worth noting the Liberals dropped some visuals this weekend none the less.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks, I hadn’t seen the Liberal online ad yet. Here it is in case anyone is looking for it: https://www.facebook.com/LiberalCA/videos/10152782169467007/
      They need to do better, that’s the weakest of all the ads. The concept of focusing on one day is good, but then it gets too wordy and bloated with details. Too much crammed into one ad I think.

      • CSM says:

        One minute and twenty four seconds of reading. I am not young and I found it stultifying.

        As to the job interview ad, who else can imagine “but he has nice hair” as the meme for October?

  20. P Brennan says:

    ads are tough …I have not seen many that I like …I follow politics so I have a sense of leaders, issues on ongonig basis as do many Canadians…I know ads are after fence sitters and those who do not follow … and that negative ads work –

    If I were PC’s I would focus on what we have as canadians vs what the NDP and LPC promise

    LPC got to try to make Mr Trudeau more stately and serious

    Tom Mulcair needs to be softened ..they try in ad discussed but not sure it works

    Then it appears to be how dirty do you want to get – what resonates – environment, senate, taxes, foreign affairs/war, immigration – I would still stick to jobs and economy – get some clear stats and tell us whats going to be done beyond the plethora of current programs out there (credits , make work , youth initiatives, employment equity )

  21. Jim Walsh says:

    Mulcair’s ad was pretty weak, I think. Pretty much just the usual “buzz-word Bingo” also played by Justin. Middle-Class? Check. Strengthen families? Check. Environment should be good? Check. What does that mean in terms of what the NDP would actually DO if they were in charge? Who knows? Not sure Mulcair knows.

    The Conservative ad was well targeted I think. Point out the obvious without going severely negative.

  22. Kevin says:

    Interesting the NDP would use a dry-cleaning shop in their ad: one of the most environmentally unfriendly businesses that exists.

  23. Priyesh says:

    The timing is really curious. You have to think that the Conservatives wanted to release this ad earlier, but now that the Liberals are in third place, they’re trying to pile on. The Conservatives really believe this “if it comes down to Conservatives vs NDP, voters will choose Conservative”.

    But I think Jim Prentice would have a few things to say about that. I think the ad does hit Trudeau exactly where he’s vulnerable. But I think it will turn people off the Conservatives as well. The beneficiaries might be an ascendant Tom Mulcair. I used to underestimate him, but not anymore. Seems the strategists are still making that mistake though.

  24. sezme says:

    My thoughts:

    NDP ad: kinda boring. I just can’t get why the baker at the beginning puts two pieces of dough together and starts kneading them together. Who does that? Tom has an awesome voice, but his body language is very scripted as is his line about being raised on middle class values. What the hell does that mean? Still, he does want to look out for bakers, servers and dry cleaners.

    CPC ad (the Camaro assembly line one, not the interview one): I don’t like that it makes it seem that for Harper, being PM is just a job that he tries to be pretty good at. He makes tough choices but then shuts off the light and leaves the office at 4:55pm. I’d want a bit more effort from a PM.

    LPC ad: The Rose family has decided to put off paying debt to finance their children’s education and Trudeau won’t accept that. Sounds like Justin doesn’t understand that not everyone can have it all. I like fairness too, though. But is he planning to visit every Canadian family one by one and discuss their options with them?

  25. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I would argue that previous Conservative ads worked because, at the very least, they fed into the negative perceptions that voters already had of Dion and Ignatieff.

    That won’t happen this time. Pretty well everyone either likes Justin or is at least willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Read, his chance.

    The CPC explicitly acknowledged that in their own ad — proof positive that they’ve got their work cut out for them. This time, they have no guarantee that it will work.

  26. debs says:

    I find the ndp and liberal ads boring and humdrum, the usual bs….they need to ask southpark creators to make them negative ads about Harper and really jazz the concept up. They both need to pile on harper and all his failures and that means negative ads. Justin says no to going negative, and I dont know if Mulcair has the balls to do this.

    and the CPC ad is different and has some wit, folks will pay attn because its of a different clever format, I dont think its over the top negative, so it wont offend voters. The real damage, the memes it leaves behind in peoples brains. justin, not a good choice, not qualified and NOT ready. they have stayed on message for many years and they might garner some undecideds without offending them.

  27. Ralph says:

    I’m not writing all the witty stuff I wrote a third time. This captcha system sucks.

    The CPC ad is condescending and fake. I don’t buy it. And I can’t understand what the South-Asian dude says after the remark about winter jackets.

    It’s petty, juvenile and stupid. What else did we expect?

  28. Steve T says:

    I do not understand why neither the NDP nor the Liberals are avoiding attacking Harper on specific events and choices of his term in office. Surely there are things they can critique? I am a small-C conservative, and I can think of plenty.

    Just like you’ve always said, Warren, as much as Canadian claim they don’t like “attack” ads, they vote differently. Attack ads are extremely effective. That’s why the CPC is using them against JT. Shouldn’t the NDP and Libs be taking a cue from that?

    • Steve T says:

      Sorry – meant to say I don’t understand why the NDP and the Liberals are avoiding attacking Harper. Dang double-negatives…

      • sezme says:

        Attack ads can and do work, sometimes. But it’s worth nothing that in the 2008 US election, McCain used plenty of attack ads against Obama who in turn used none against McCain.

  29. Joe says:

    At a small function last night and the TV was on in the background. The CPC ad came on and several people stopped to watch it. At the end they all said “Yup” and laughed. I couldn’t tell you their political affiliation because I didn’t know many of them personally.

  30. Pat says:

    So far it’s all boring and boiler plate. There is no pressing central issue that the challengers can/are coalescing around. There is no referenda on anything of significance. And these bland sleepy ads underscore this.

    Is this the stuff that promotes voter enthusiasm and befalls an incumbent government?

  31. RogerX says:


    The CPC intentionally put in the so-called “Camaro gaffe” to get the media to talk about the Harper-featured attack ad and thus giving it extra play.
    The gaffe doesn’t matter because the overriding message about Harper, the economy and the security issue will still stick in the meme-ed minds of the viewers.

    What is it they say about “celebrity”? It doesn’t matter if they say bad things about you as long as they say something?

  32. Windsurfer says:

    I love the ad where Harper leaves the office and turns out the lights.

    Some Smart-Ass Liberal or Dipper could grab that and re-caption as “Steve has turned the lights out on this country………… [then pillory his ‘accomplishments’].

    Then again……….

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