Unifor uses Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney to target the “new O’Toole 2021”
With election fever raging across the country, Unifor’s new political advertisement popped up on social media yesterday and it was too good not to share it in the final hours of this long August weekend.
It’s a notice of attack that mimics automobile advertising stereotypes, and it targets Erin O’Toole, the newest unfortunate leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Feelings of guilt by association play an important role in the action of the 30-second display. It alludes to Mr O’Toole’s association with former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who remains unpopular with many Canadians, as well as Alberta’s Prime Minister Jason Kenney, who is working hard these days to achieve new levels of mass unpopularity.
Whether the “O’Toole 2021”, the metaphorical battered pickup truck that is warning Canada’s largest private sector union to steer Canada in the wrong direction by literally falling apart before our very eyes, is kind of a negative tribute to Mr. Kenney’s big blue Dodge Ram is a question that must remain unanswered for now.
The image of a well-shod foot on the accelerator suggests Premier Kenney was the wrong pickup guy, if ever there was one.
I suspect the Poser premier’s big Dodge helped inspire the concept, but getting that message across wasn’t a huge problem for the Unifor screenwriters. After all, the ad is clearly aimed at voters in central Canada and elsewhere who live far from the reflexively conservative prairies and would likely not get the notice.
What they get, however, is that Mr. Kenney and the United Conservative Party are doing bad things to Alberta, which is why the ad’s scratchy narrative reminds viewers that the new O’Toole is “driven on gut health and education, only”. like Jason Kenney. “
Doug Ford has to thank his lucky stars, and not for the first time, that his former bromantic partner from Alberta is even less popular than the Premier of Ontario, which is a remarkable achievement. Or, since it’s just a soundtrack, maybe there is a Doug Ford version that can be played in Ontario.
The ad is one of the funniest political spots you will ever see. There used to be a mindset in advertising in the advertising business that negative advertising, which also tries to be funny, doesn’t work very well – that viewers remember the joke but not the attack.
Attentive readers will remember the Conservative 2015 interview sketch that attacked Justin Trudeau. It was fun, but it didn’t bring any results. However, there were many other reasons for Mr Harper’s failure that year, the most important of which was the former Prime Minister himself.
In that case, it would be impossible to get the joke without understanding the point, so I’m inclined to believe that Unifor’s message, Mr. O’Toole, sticks with it, thank you very much.
There is also an opinion in the advertising industry that humorous attack ads immunize the advertiser – or the advertiser’s preferred candidate – against the otherwise almost inevitable effect that some of the negativity rubs off on the people whom the advertisement is intended to help.
Certainly there was nothing humorous about Unifor National President Jerry Dias’s statement about Mr. O’Toole in the union press release yesterday. “O’Toole cannot even control members of his own party while they attack access to abortion and LGBTQ rights,“he stated.” We cannot trust him to take the lead and we are ready to take on this fight.”
As for the suggestion from some social media fans that pickup drivers might not like the ads because they own battered trucks themselves, give Unifor some credit. It used to be the Canadian auto workers. They know Canada’s working-class pickup drivers don’t want a battered old Mazda like the one in the ad – they want big Detroit diesels like those North American automakers made in Canada and now assemble almost entirely in Mexico.
“Unifor, like all unions, has the constitutional right to vote and a responsibility to defend the interests of its members when Canadians go to the polls,“Said Mr Dias – a warning to governments like Mr Kenney’s that would try to silence the unions’ voices in the campaign.
Perhaps one day the Unifor national office will simply ignore the UCP’s unconstitutional efforts to silence Alberta’s unions and use its national platform to speak on behalf of union members in that province.
Mr Dias, like former President of the Canadian Labor Congress and current Canadian Senator Hassan Yussuff, has been criticized in some sections of the labor movement for being too close to Mr Trudeau and the Liberals and not close enough to the federal NDP. However, this ad distracts from endorsing a potential prime minister – as long as it’s not Erin O’Toole.