Pre-election call in Canada, Conservatives start ads, including during kids TV

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stephen Harper in 2006, delivering his 2006 election acceptance speech.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper may not have dropped the writ for an election yet, but his party is airing advertisements on both television and radio.

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Day 34 of the 2008 Canadian elections
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Because the election is not yet official — though it is scheduled for October 19, 2009 and could be held as soon as October of this year — the ads do not count against the Conservative Party's campaign spending limit. They have been airing since Thursday.

The advertisement includes various Canadians making statements about Harper, as opposed to the Conservative platform. One woman shown in a parking lot says that she likes "the idea that he's a family man with young children."

The Canadian Press notes that all four major party leaders are married and have children.

Other statements include "[h]e's doing a good job," "I've never been so proud to be Canadian," "[h]e's on the right track" and "I like him."

Political communication expert Jonathan Rose of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario told the Canadian Press: "By relying on typical Canadians in the ads, the Conservatives are hoping that the voter will find the connection powerful. Unfortunately, these kind of ads are based on assertions, not arguments. There is no evidence given to support the claims made in them."

A writer for The Montreal Gazette comments that, "at the end, it's hard to tell whether Stephen Harper is trying to smile or grimacing with the effort to convey warmth."

Kids TV among media buy

The Conservative Party ads are airing during children's programming, amongst other air times, presumed to be an attempt to reach parents.

Gazette writer Elizabeth Thompson noted that her daughter had seen one of the ads during an airing of SpongeBob SquarePants on television station YTV. Thompson criticized the choice to air the ads in the time slot, after her daughter repeated the ad claims "matter-of-factly".

SpongeBob SquarePants was shown in a recent poll to be watched by 24 percent of parents with their child. About 41 percent of YTV's audience is above the age of majority, and 68 percent of its reach composition, according to fall 2007 statistics by BBM Nielsen Media Research.


Sources

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