“‘Stephen Harper isn’t perfect’ ad makes rookie communications mistake” (CBC News)

Kerry McKibbin (CBC News):

A new ad released by the Conservative Party shows a series of Canadians talking about the economy and their fears around what might happen if a non-Conservative government were to be elected into office.

What’s the message?

It’s a step away from “Justin Trudeau — just not ready,” but perhaps not a prudent one. The ad is a summation of Stephen Harper’s core message for the past several months: that he is the only leader who can be trusted with the economy. But it has prompted commentary (and hilarity) in social media, in particular about the line “Stephen Harper isn’t perfect,” a peculiar way of addressing party missteps or potential need for policy improvements.

Why now?

The “not perfect” line is likely intended to acknowledge and defuse some of the negative headlines recently plaguing the party, such as its response to the Syrian refugee crisis, Peegate, and the Duffy scandal.

However, this negative slant is a rookie communications mistake, which is particularly bizarre given it is being made by an experienced campaign team. Imagine a cereal company saying: “Our oatmeal isn’t perfect, but it’s better than other oatmeal.” There are more positive ways to frame the conversation around these kinds of talking points.

As well, without specificity about how or why Harper is not perfect, it raises more questions than it answers.

Kernel of truth:

Other than the statement that Trudeau plans to run deficits, the ad is mostly opinion or platitudes rather than fact. For example, “The NDP can’t manage money,” and “We can depend on [Harper].” As well, it may be myopic to continue to singularly tout the Conservatives’ economic superiority in light of the recent announcement that the economy slipped into a recession.

Full analysis here