Ad Watch: The Best of Elxn41

Over the past month, I’ve asked you to rate election commercials. I’ve gone back and calculated the mean grade for each, and will now count down the top 5 ads of the election.

You’ll notice the following are all NDP or Liberal commercials. The Greens’ clever “change the channel” spot comes in at number 6, but out of the 17 ads I asked you to rate, Tory commercials finished 10, 11, 13, 14, and 16.

I think that’s more a product of who was rating the ads than their quality. After all, Patrick Muttart’s micro-targeting likely hasn’t identified readers of Liberal blogs as a key Conservative voting block.

For the record, I think the Just Visiting campaign and the subsequent series of Tax Attacks against Ignatieff were, hands down, the most effective commercials of the entire (pre) campaign.

But the voters have spoken and here are their top 5 ads of the election:

5: Health Risk (Liberal)

In terms of production values, this was the best ad of the campaign. It’s got great visuals, great audio, and the heart monitor creates a real sense of urgency. It goes after Harper on an issue that is important to voters.

The only knock on it would be that it doesn’t give anyone a reason to vote Liberal. It likely didn’t help that Ignatieff wasn’t talking much about Liberal plans for Health Care on the ground while this one was on the air.

4: Going after the Tim Hortons Crowd (NDP)

Like the previous Liberal ad, this one also attacks Harper on Health Care…but from a completely different direction. It uses cartoons, it uses a specific example, and it ends with Jack giving the NDP alternative.

It’s hard to say which strategy is better or worse, but the end result was a nearly identical grade for both.

3: Contempt (Liberal)

I suspect if I had people rate all the ads today, this one wouldn’t crack the top 10.

This commercial was released pre-writ when everyone (at least everyone in the blogosphere) was wound up on the contempt ruling and the scandal of the day the Tories were serving up. Those issues went nowhere quickly during the campaign.

2: Family Care (Liberal)

This was my personal favourite. It humanized Ignatieff and helped him connect with voters on an emotional issue many Canadians have gone through themselves. Moreover, it showed the Liberals had a plan to address a problem.

It certainly wasn’t as flashy as the other two Liberal ads above, but ads don’t always have to be flashy to get you votes.

1: Just Jack (NDP)

This ad and the Imagine follow-up are exactly what you want to air to close the deal when your party is surging. It’s feel good, it shows momentum, it gives the final voting pitch.

Most notable is how Jack-centric this ad was. The commercial focuses exclusively on the NDP leader and shows him talking about how “I will hire doctors” – not how “we will hire doctors”. All this was likely wise since, after all, people voted for Jack, not the NDP.

So you can mark down “NDP” on your scorecards for the best ad question on my election pool.

I still need to pick a “nastiest” ad of the campaign and, truth be told, I’m torn. The Health Care spots above were unfair to Harper, as was the NDP’s jab at Ignatieff’s voting record. Then you have basically every negative commercial run by the Conservatives this election, attacking Ignatieff and Layton on coalitions, phantom IPod taxes, and even Ignatieff’s loyalty to Canada.

In this flaming cesspool of negativity, it’s hard to pick a “winner”, so I’m open to suggestions in the comments section.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Ads, Federal Politics

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at and online at the National Post.

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