In the run-up to Wednesday’s lifting of the advertising blackout that was in place for the election’s first two weeks, all three major parties made a big production of unveiling their new TV ads.
None of them made as much of a show of presenting their radio ads. But that’s where some of the most interesting action will be this campaign, because it’s where the parties can present a whole whack of different messages tailored to different audiences.
Whereas TV ads cost a lot to get on the air and mostly have to run province-wide, radio ones are cheaper to produce and place, and the parties can pick and choose which markets hear them. In some cases, even listeners within the same city might hear different messages from the same party, depending on which station they listen to and what the demographics of its audience are.
All this is to say that it merits doing our best to track who the parties are trying to reach through the radio, and what they’re saying – because it might be different in tone and even in substance from what they’re communicating on TV.
For instance, an ad the Progressive Conservatives are running on talk-radio stations, which features a woman narrating a letter she’s heard typing to Kathleen Wynne, strikes a bit of a contrast to their optimistic TV spot. Here’s the script, up to the last part where Tim Hudak briefly introduces himself and says he has “a plan to create a million jobs and lower your taxes”:
My husband Stuart lost his job last week. The plant where he worked was shut down. They packed up and moved out of Ontario in favour of greener pastures south of the border. Just like that, no more job. Stu was at the company for 15 years – showed up on time, kept his head down, never complained. He blames himself. But I don’t – I blame you. Not only has your say-anything, spend-anything Liberal government wiped out gas plants, discouraged business, cost this province 300,000 manufacturing jobs…Speaking of jobs – how you’ve managed to keep yours is beyond me. My husband has lost his job and for that, you’ve lost our votes. It’s over, Kathleen, we’re moving on.
I don’t mean to single out the Tories – I’m sure all three parties are delivering different message on radio than on TV. So by all means, if you hear something you don’t think has been widely noticed yet, let us know – or even better, record it and send it over. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’re so inclined.