I asked the students in my Canadian Political Parties class what they thought about the "air war" thus far. Almost everyone reported having seen the Tories' famous "blue sweater" ads. (This is hardly surprising, given that they were released on most major networks in the weeks before the writ-drop.) No one had seen the Liberals' "Turn the Page" ads. (Again, not surprising. I have to admit, I have yet to see a live, TV version. For his part, Dion vetoed the release of an earlier version on the opening day of the campaign.) Yet, I was surprised that none of my students had seen Jack Layton's "New Kind of Strong" ads. This was interesting and somewhat embarassing for me...
It struck me that all of the NDP ads I have seen thus far are the product of "narrowcasting." That is, the NDs are advertising on specialty TV channels, ensuring their message reaches target demographics. Here's the kicker: I was the only one in the class (12 women, 2 men) who had watched enough "Slice" and "Women's Network" television during Week 1 of the campaign to catch the NDP ads.
I stand to be corrected, but I don't recall seeing any NDP ads on CTV, CBC or Global this week. Nor have I seen them on TSN or Sportsnet. If true, this shows that, rather than broadcasting their ads on nation-wide television networks, the party is investing resources more strategically this year. The move mirrors those of the Harper Conservatives (who have advertised on "men's TV" networks during the past two campaigns), and parallels similar ad-buys by Hillary Clinton in this spring's Democratic Party primary (she bought considerable time on "Oxygen" and the Hallmark Channel).
I wonder, though: if a dozen, politically-engaged, flexibly-partisan, "avid television watching" young women in Winnipeg -- a key target for any party, let alone the NDP -- didn't see the ads, how effective is this ad-buy, really? (As for me, I'll keep watching for Jack between Friends and X-Weighted reruns. I don't suspect to see Mr. Harper there... But with a new suite of "softer Stephen" ads, who knows.)