Why political parties run attack ads even if you don’t like them


Announcer: Vassy:You’re pretty much
guaranteed to see negative ads
during a Canadian election.Announcer:
He’s not as advertised. Vassy:They’re usually put
out by political parties
but third parties run them too.That’s basically any person or
organization that spends
a minimum of five hundred
dollars on election activities
and they have to be registeredwith Elections Canada.No matter who’s
running the negative ad, whether it be third party
or a party, research shows that if you’re like most people
you’re probably not a fan. We’re going to be
testing advertising.The first thing
they’ll say to you is,
“I hate negative advertising.”Vassy:In fact this
study published
in The Journal of Politicssuggests that negative
campaigning has the potential
to do damage because it tends
to reduce feelings
of political efficacy
and trust in government.
So if parties are
trying to win over voters, why do they keep running ads
that people don’t like? ♪ ♪ First, let’s point out how big
of a deal advertising is to a campaign. Strategists say it accounts for
50 per cent of the budget.According to Elections Canada,in 2015 theLiberals
spent about
28-million dollars on ads,theConservatives
spent 19-million
and the NDP spent
12 and a half million.
That money can go toward
different types of ads
like positive ones
that outline your plan.
That’s why I will
cancel the carbon tax.Announcer:And Elizabeth May
has the strength of character to deliver. Singh:People tell meI’m different from
the other leaders.
Vassy:You can run contrast ads
that compare your plan with your opponent’s plan or you can criticize
your opponent – strategists call
that going negative. You know that
Buckley’s slogan…Announcer:It tastes
awful and it works. People tell you
they don’t like them and that they don’t work by campaign after
a campaign uses them. Vassy:This is
Dennis Matthews,
he’s a longtime
advertising consultant
who’s worked on multiple
Conservativecampaignsand this is David Herle.He chaired severalLiberal
campaigns in the early 2000s.
If you’re a researcher and you
look beyond that initial socially correct response you’ll
find that a good negative ad
will have changed their
perceptions and their opinion
of something important in a way
that got past their guard
against negative advertising.Vassy:So, what makes a negative ad good
enough to change perceptions?Most strategists have their
own list of guidelines;
like spark
and emotional response,
introduce new information,creativity.One they all agree on:all negative ads should
follow this golden rule.
David:It needs to be
rooted in truth. for it to be effective. If it’s wholly
made up, if it doesn’t ring true to people at all, then it’s not
going to be effective. You have to be hitting at
things that voters already sort of believe or have a worry
about about a candidateand tapping into that makes
them most effective.
Announcer:Justin Trudeau.
He’s just not ready.
Vassy:Herle argues it’s why
this 2015 ad
on Justin Trudeau didn’t work.David:It wasn’t
rooted in truth.
And it was
a disprovable proposition. Vassy:You might remember
the
Liberalsran a response ad.This was unusual becausemost parties don’t want to draw
attention to criticism.
I’m ready to bring
real change to Ottawa. Vassy:But a third party group
has actually already recycled
the idea for the 2019 election.Announcer: Justin Trudeau,
he was never ready.
♪ ♪ Vassy:In fact don’t be
surprised if you see more ads
from third parties
during this election.
Announcer:His weakness
will cost you.
Alex:It’s much better
if you can find
somebody else to convey
the negative messages than you,
because otherwise what you’re
doing is you’re risking all sorts of
potential backlash. Vassy:This is Alex Marland.He studies political messagingat Memorial University
in Newfoundland.
More from him in a minute.His party was caught
breaking the rules.
Vassy:Let’s go back to 2015
though, the
Conservativeswere trying a tactic on Trudeauthat they also
tried on Tom Mulcair.
Announcer:Another career
politician we can’t afford.
The idea is to “debrand”
your opponent before they can brand themselves
and you’ll most likely see it done to challengers. Vassy:Dennis Matthews worked
on both of these campaign ads.
Dennis:This is something where
an
advertising campaign ran against you before
you’ve had a chance to run your own about yourself, it’s kind of
worst case scenario. Not all negative
ads hit the mark. In fact they
really risk backfiring. Take for example thisLiberal
ad from the 2006 campaign. Announcer: Vassy:That ad never made
it to air
and theLiberals
pulled it from
their website over concerns it
could be misconstrued.
I should clarify there’s
actually another type ad: the attack ad. I’m going to let
Alex Marland explain that one. An attack ad
is one that is focusing on personal traits,
how somebody looks. It really doesn’t have anything
to do with public policy. Most strategists
will tell youthat personal attacks
are a “no-go zone”.
Woman’s voice: I personally
would be very
embarrassed if he wereto become the Prime
Minister of Canada.
♪ [ dramatic ] Announcer:Think twice.Vassy:ThisProgressive
Conservativead from1993 is maybe
the best known example
of an attack ad
in Canadian politics.
It was widely seen as trying
to use Jean Chrétien’s
partial facial paralysis
to spark some doubt about his
leadership abilities. They tried to make
fun of the way I look. Dennis:There’s many
reasons to vote for somebody
or not to vote for somebody. But, you know,
appearance isn’t really one of
those ones that I think, you know,
passes the test of is this an okay
thing to be going after? That ad came to be seen as not a fair
comment but an unfair cheapthing to do to
Mr Chretien.
Vassy:Kim Campbell scrapped
the ad within 24 hours.
[cheering and chanting]Chretien’sLiberalswent
on to beat the
PCs,winning a majority government.Just how effective negative ads
really are though is still the subject of debate in
academic circles. Alex:There’s a lot of
disagreement about how
effective negative
advertising is.
Vassy:Back to that study from
2007 I mentioned earlier,
researchers concluded
that the evidence
they looked at didn’t provethe idea that
negative campaigning
is an effective means of
winning votes.
On the other hand researchers
have also tested how people physically react
to political ads.This study publishedin TheJournal of
Advertisingin 2007,found that people
who watch negative ads
had physiological responses
that indicated their body was
preparing to move away.A study published
four years later in
theCanadian Journal of
Communicationconcludedthat negative ads generated
heightened attention levels
compared to positive
or mixed messages.
That said, participants
expressed more resistance
to being persuaded by
the negative ad campaigns.
In the end Marland
argues that negative ads do something that
positive ads alone can’t. It provides information to
voters that they perhaps would not have heard otherwise
and they have not considered. Isn’t it better to have voters
who are able to consider both positive
and negative information than just only
positive information. ♪ ♪

Maurice Vega

19 Responses

  1. Attack ads are less about gaining new voter, more about riling up their base. Making them angry enough about the opposition to convince them to get out and vote agaisntbthem

  2. Because attack ads resonate to the lowest primal instinct. it's worth mentioning that these types of ads rarely come up in a civilized and politically enlighten Nations. So what does that say about Hockey nation Canadians?

  3. I think "constructive criticism" ads have value but ads with negative opinions and false facts need to be removed and the party to be penalized

  4. Eh, I don't watch TV, and I use an ad blocker, so rip to those ads. Attack ads in my opinion, are just a substitute for actual policy substance, something to hide your weaknesses. So the more attack ads a campaign runs, the less "good" policy they have to show off. Good in this case means policy that has support by a plurality of people, or something that would benefit the majority, the lower and middles classes, of society.

  5. It's always been easier to pick holes in someone else than to tell us how they are going to fix the problem and you don't have to be responsible to live up to their platform.

  6. negative ads feel like cheating on tests, chaeting or betraying people, or just someone who is controlling someone like a slave. basically you can think of many ways how it's not okay.

  7. The thing with attack ads sooner or later they’ll have a reverse impact on the voters. Attacking during an election just proves these parties are desperate. I personally would like to see these kind of ads made illegal during an election. It’s about times these political parties concentrate on what really matters, building the economy.

  8. SNC, Mark Norman, rule of law, India trip, enormous debt, incompentant cabinet, $10.5 million, etc. Only a fool or paid person would suport the plastic liar

  9. The Conservative personal attack ads on Stéphane Dion still make me cringe to this day. They're definitely a gamble and I agree that they often serve to rile up their base more than anything else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment