By: James Di Fiore
Sometimes political ads barely miss their mark. Sometimes, albeit rarely, a political ad will be a brilliant 30 seconds of prowess where a politician looks like an inspiring leader while his/her opponent resembles an evil or incompetent cohort.
But sometimes a political ad is so bad, so ineffective, so horribly awful that it actually does damage to the party responsible for it, instead of just being another ad that gets pulled from the airwaves.
Tim Hudak’s ‘Male, Pale and Stale’ is an ad that should never have been made in the first place, nevermind getting pulled off the airwaves. The very idea that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives approved this ad is a testament to incompetence within party advertising.
Style: Like most ads we’ve seen in 2014 – whether federal, provincial or municipal – this ad looks like high school students produced it. Not-so-scary images of Kathleen Wynne and random, unknown men are sloppily pasted next to a voiceover that inexplicably increases in volume by the time the tag line is said. This is either an intentional punctuation of the ad’s confusing message or a testament to why cutting the cost of post-production is a bad idea.
Message: At first the viewer believes this will just be another ad slamming unions as to appease the supposed base of the Ontario PCs, but then it veers into bizarre territory where being male and white – the precise description of those who make up the PC base in Ontario – is something so negative that you will want to think twice before voting PC. You know, because being a white male is evil, even though the bulk of Tim Hudak’s supporters can be aptly described as male and white. Make sense? No, of course it doesn’t. It would be like the NDP putting out an ad that labeled young environmentalists as a cancer on the province. It appears they are trying to appeal to female progressives by labeling the gatekeepers of Working Families – an organization comprised of labour groups – as a monolithic group of pasty white men. That’s about it. That’s their message. Yay.
Effectiveness: I am surprised the PCs have not removed this ad from the Internet, and I will be shocked if they actually continue to buy airtime for television spots. The base will find the ad confusing as they try to grasp why they are being labeled the enemy, while progressives will correctly assume nobody in the province will have a clue what the ad is trying to say.