National Newswatch

Why all the fuss over François Legault’s ‘vox pop’ ad?

Jul 22 2022 — Eric Blais — The Coalition Avenir Québec reportedly paid $500 to an 80-year-old woman appearing in a testimonial ad. The woman tells viewers what she likes most about Premier François Legault: his frankness. “He can’t do it all. That’s impossible. But he moves forward,” she says, before giving a thumbs-up. The ad broke through and was quickly parodied […]

Don’t dismiss the influence of the “radically normal”

Jun 29 2022 — Eric Blais — Jenni Byrne, the political strategist, former advisor to Stephen Harper, former Principal Secretary to Doug Ford, former girlfriend of Pierre Poilievre (according to her Wikipedia profile), and now one of the advisors helping him become Canada’s next PM, once referred to Maxime Bernier’s supporters as “radically normal” folks on Amanda Galbraith’s Political Traction podcast. As […]

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 […]