Christy Clark has set a new record for spending our money advertising her government, some $15 million for the year ending March 31, with the lion’s share spent in the lead-up to the May 9 election. At times, the sheer intensity of the government’s feel-good tagline “Our opportunity is here” ads felt like psychological carpet-bombing.
Miraculously, Clark’s government ads dovetail quite neatly with the themes of Clark’s Liberal Party re-election ads.
The purpose of advertising is to persuade. It works by repetition of a message to create a perception in the mind of the target audience regarding the product being sold, regardless of actual facts. The Clark government’s ads are intended to create the perception among citizens that her Liberal government has been good for BC. Clark’s Liberal Party re-election ads are intended to create the perception among voters that her party is worthy of re-election, based largely on the advertised performance of her government.
The partisanship displayed by the Clark government’s ad campaign has been so glaring it recently prompted BC Auditor General Carol Bellringer to chastise Clark & Co. for its lack of neutrality in their ads. While Bellringer’s critical comments are welcome, it is simply too little, too late: akin to closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. To the extent that the government’s ad campaign has done it’s job to persuade, regardless of actual facts, that impact cannot now be undone by a few stories in newspapers and television newscasts, much of which will not even be seen by those who viewed the ads.
As we roll through these final weeks to the election, voters would be wise to consider whether or not the Clark government’s advertising tag line would have more honestly read “Our opportunism is clear”.