National Newswatch

The urgency to protect French language in Quebec

Nov 22 2021 — Eric Blais — Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau is likely not the only Quebecer with the last name Rousseau who is struggling in French. That’s a big problem not easily solved with private lessons. It also won’t be solved with regulations making the word “Café” larger than Starbucks on retail signs. In 2014, one person in five (19 […]

Air Canada’s unilingual CEO has tarnished his company’s brand

Nov 7 2021 — Eric Blais — The storm triggered by a major speech by Air Canada’s CEO to Montreal’s business community has less to do with his very limited spoken French than with his apparent indifference. Michael Rousseau isn’t the first CEO of Air Canada who can’t speak French. Robert Milton and his successor, Marty Brewer, couldn’t either. And he isn’t […]

Quebec Premier François Legault, a onetime marketing executive, has built a political power brand

Oct 17 2021 — Eric Blais — The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), the party founded by Quebec Premier François Legault, will celebrate its tenth anniversary next month. The Caquistes have much to celebrate. They’ll also be running for re-election in a year. While that’s an eternity in politics, the odds are clearly in the CAQ’s favour as the main opposition parties, the […]

The Liberals also won the advertising campaign

Oct 6 2021 — Eric Blais — Advertising is rarely part of the national conversation unless it’s political. Like a sneaker ad about kneeling. A beer ad about being Canadian. Or a sponsorship advertising scandal. And so it becomes a hot topic during elections. Particularly when the fight for votes in a tight race requires nasty negative ads.

Too negative won’t make a positive. Why attack ads might not be the zero-sum game party strategists are betting on

Sep 9 2021 — Eric Blais — Why attack ads might not be the zero-sum game party strategists are betting on.   The gloves are off. The two leading parties are now running negative ads. Not contrast ads in which the attack on the opponent is followed by the attacker’s contrasting position. Instead, both parties have gone nuclear with just over two weeks […]

Justin Trudeau, the mature brand

Jan 20 2021 — Eric Blais — When the Liberal Party of Canada went looking for an advertising agency in 2013, the briefing was clear: the Liberals had a young, energetic leader with significant brand recognition. There was talk of surrounding him with a strong team, but it was obvious he’d be the face of the revitalized brand, and the embodiment of […]

Grading the Lincoln Project.

Nov 18 2020 — Eric Blais — It was a mega project resulting in an impressive body of work: over 200 ads aired and/or published online over 10 months. The Lincoln Project was officially launched with an op-ed in the New York Times last December. Its founders are some of America’s most experienced political operatives with one surprising thing in common: they […]

Will Justin Trudeau end partisan government advertising?

Nov 22 2015 — Eric Blais — The next federal election will be held no later than Oct. 21, 2019, and while you won’t see lawn signs anytime soon, what’s been called the “permanent campaign” has already begun. That concept dates back to the 1970s, when political strategist and pollster Patrick Caddell drafted a memo for U.S. president-elect Jimmy Carter, in which […]

Conservatives’ Trudeau attack ads worked, but maybe not ‘forever’

Oct 16 2015 — Eric Blais — It’s called framing. And the Conservatives are experts at it. It’s a concept political strategists borrowed from George Lakoff, a highly respected linguistics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Simply put, a frame is the image that’s embedded in the public’s mind when they think of a politician. Once that frame is established using […]

Conservative video spreads ISIS propaganda to make Justin Trudeau look weak

Jun 30 2015 — Eric Blais — The latest attack ad by the Conservatives is proof positive of Kim Campbell’s infamous assertion that election campaigns (including 45-second videos on social media) aren’t the time to talk about complicated policy issues. The ad — posted as an online video last Thursday, but not airing in any purchased television spots — attacks Liberal leader […]

The ruler and the hero: Do the federal leaders follow common types?

May 24 2015 — Eric Blais — How will the federal leaders be defined in voters’ minds in the next federal election? In the world of advertising, brands are often built on the strength of archetypes, the familiar images and symbols of our dreams, mythology and fairy tales. Nike is the Hero. Jeep embodies the Explorer archetype. And Harley Davidson is the […]