In a radio interview with Radio-Canada’s Catherine Lachaussée last Friday, Julie-Anne Vien, NATIONAL Partner from our Quebec City office, talked about the turning points and the undeniable value of the leaders’ image throughout the campaign.
According to our colleague, the turning point of the campaign was Justin Trudeau's ability to get rid of the inexperienced label Stephen Harper had tried to stick on him, thus successfully positioning himself as a credible alternative. “After a great performance in the Munk Debate on Foreign Policy, we witnessed a major shift in the Liberal leader’s image,” says Julie-Anne. “The winner of a debate – and of an election – is not necessarily the one who best answers questions; it’s the one who most inspires trust.”
Perception, perception, perception
Whether it’s positive or negative, political advertising is part of a global strategy and has a specific goal for party leaders: to position themselves and to define their opponents. “In an information-overloaded environment, voters aren’t necessarily in front of their televisions,” explains Julie-Anne. “They’re reached through social media, but also through a commentary industry that has almost become more important than advertising. The debate on the debate is almost more interesting than the debate itself.”
In fact, Canadians witnessed a clear and drastic change in the Conservatives’ image in the last few days of the campaign. Known for his formal approach, Stephen Harper recently tried to step out of his comfort zone, loosening his shirt collar, getting closer to people, playing an amusing version of The Price is Right and even singing with Quebec television host Éric Salvail! “It clearly shows that every vote counts, and that the notions of proximity and relatability can potentially pay off in the end,” added our colleague.
On this Election Day, it will be interesting to see if the 20-25% of soft voters will follow the latest polling trends, as it is usually the case. Because ultimately, everybody wants to follow the leader…
Click on the image below listen to the complete interview (in French).