This is the year of the youtube election.
Some of them, like Alison Coffin’s recession pitch or Dan Crummell’s “I live in the district” spot are simple and straightforward. Others, like those of Conservatives Beth Crosbie and Ryan Cleary are so bizarre that they are funny. On Facebook, Conservative Alison Stoodley identified Browning Harvey as a threat to public health.
All are reminiscent of a string of videos released by John Ottenheimer during the Conservative leadership campaign a year ago. Ottenheimer, the outsider candidate, tried to use humour to attract some attention to his effort.
Alone and losing
Each of these short videos is produced by a candidate expected to lose, and in some cases lose badly. All are running for parties that failed to prepare for the campaign. The result is that the candidates feel as though they are running on their own. Without adequate support, they’ve taken to running their own stuff.
Candidates in provincial elections here tend not to produce videos of their own. Leading candidates from leading parties don’t need to worry so they don’t waste effort on videos. The cost of doing them properly – including the media buy – is prohibitive.
Low production values
You can see that in some of them. Cleary’s is a pretty cheap effort and that shows through in spades. Crosbie’s took some effort to get that tiny fiddler in there but the effort, overall, is very much low budget.
Crummell, by contrast, looks like a professional job and he’s been paying to have the videos turn up on youtube. That isn’t expensive. The result is a decent quality spot.
Unfortunately for Crummell only 3500 people have seen his video since it aired and most of those people likely don’t live specifically in his district. Cleary at the bus stop only had about 500 views when this post went to bed. Crosbie’s videos might have a slightly wider reach because she got some exposure on conventional media.
What these folks are doing here is akin to trying to bring down a couple of ducks with a single shotgun blast… from a mile and a half away.
There are better alternatives. A targeted direct mail letter would be less expensive than the cookie-cutter stuff they sent already. Plus it would be targeted to voters already willing to receive the message in it.
The only hitch for some of these candidates is that in order to do smarter stuff, you have to have resources. They needed:
- data, and
Political communications isn’t for amateurs, as Ryan Cleary proves every time he opens his mouth.
The prevalence of these videos highlights the extent to which the NDP and Conservatives in this election are simply not in this election in any serious way. The seats the Conservatives and New Democrats win on Monday night won’t be because of a great party effort. Rather, like the incompetent Liberals in 2011, the individual candidates will drag themselves across the finish line.
For the NDP that means a continuation of business as usual since they don’t aspire to be a political party anyway. They will remain politically impotent except in their own minds.
For the Conservatives, Monday might be a chance for them to clean house and start rebuilding the mess left after 15 years of leadership that has all but wrecked the party in the province.