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Conservative Ads on Trudeau Backfiring? – April 19, 2013

[Ottawa – April 20, 2013] – From Wednesday to Friday of this week, we interviewed a representative sample of some 1,828 English speaking Canadians to gauge reactions to the recent ads about the new leader of the Liberal Party. These ads were introduced by the Conservative Party immediately following his election to leader. Unlike surveys which rely on memories or second hand impressions, the entire sample viewed one of two different ads using digital media. Both ads received very similar responses, and the overall responses are summarized here.

The ads were widely recognized. More than one-third of respondents claimed to have already seen the ads and, of those who had not, about as many had heard of them. The most common source was television (67 per cent) although a significant number saw them online (43 per cent). The highest rates of viewership were in Ontario and among those who voted Liberal in the last election.

The ads were near universally seen as negative, very high majorities found them unfair and unhelpful. Only 5, 13, and 15 per cent saw them as positive, helpful, or fair (respectively). Even among Conservative supporters, most saw them as negative and did not rate them as either fair or helpful in majority terms.

The ads were also seen as largely ineffectual. Most respondents (71 per cent) said they had no impact on their view of Justin Trudeau and of the minority of those who did, positive impacts were nearly twice as common as negative impacts.

Finally, a content analysis of single word summaries of overall responses to the ads was overwhelmingly negative with words like vicious, unfair and disgusting dominating.

In summary, there may be some more subtle long term objective at play but the overall reactions from a large representative sample of English speaking voters suggests that the ads were seen as negative, unhelpful and unfair. Viewer said that for the most part they had no impact and when they did it was more likely to be helpful. Moreover, the global emotional impact on most viewers was very harsh. The ads appear to have done far more damage to the authors of the ads (the Conservative Party) than the intended target.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (April 19, 2013)

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