Campaign ads

The Canadian election is now in full swing and the campaign ads so far have proven to be boring, typical and quite unremarkable.

Most of the ads look very similar and follow one of three formulas:

  1. Attack ad with scary voice over, usually female. Images of newspaper articles are a plus. These ads feel alienating and leave you thinking, “Ugh, why bother.”
  2. Begins by saying things that the other candidate (i.e. Harper) has done wrong with scary or angry voice over. Transitions to candidate/party saying what they would do differently. Slightly less alienating but still very uninspiring.
  3. Paints positive light of candidate and usually contains a few talking points. All of these are basically the same.

These ads are stylish and obviously well done but none of them do anything special. If parties produce something mundane voters will ignore it, if they produce something remarkable then voters will feel engaged by it. Parties need to break out from making campaign ads the way they have always made campaign ads. Their ads need to say something simple and positive and they need to do it in a way that stands out.

So far the move that stands out to me is Michael Ignatieff including fake eyebrows in his party packages. This move is clever, endearing and shows that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

There are also videos that have been posted on facebook — which are in no way associated with the parties — that are creative and funny. Leave aka “How to get rid of your bad government,” by Winona Linn aka sLIGHT ( compares Steven Harper’s government to a bad relationship that just needs to be ended. There is also a why not to vote for Harper meme.

If social media does anything it’s change expectations. Videos or ads go viral because they do something neat. I have yet to see anything neat or inspiring come from any of the parties. Parties should be creative, step outside the box, engage with people and give them something to care about. Failure to do so will hit them where it hurts: at the polls.


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