Back in the pre-PVR days when I had to actually watch TV commercials, nursing grudges against the most annoying ones was a hobby.
After the umpteenth exposure, my hatred for the company doing the advertising would burn bright and true, like a gas-well fire.
"Die, Swiffer mop lady! Die!" My contempt for the product would be wildly out of proportion to its impact on my life, just based on the tediousness.
Now the B.C. Liberals are embarking on a commercial blitzkrieg that will pound their jobs plan into the head of every TV watcher in the province. You have to wonder if the overkill factor won't kick in.
The premise is that the Liberal government has an economic plan, and taxpayers should know about it.
The not-so-subtle underlying message is: You should vote for the Liberals next year, because the jobs plan is the stuff of genius.
Since they're using taxpayers' money to pay for them, there are no cost constraints on the campaign. So there is every indication they will carpet-bomb B.C. living rooms with as many jobs-plan commercials as it is possible to produce.
Along with newspaper ads and radio spots, they've been saturating prime time lately, and one of the featured commercials is one that runs a full 90 seconds, which is three times longer than the norm. A campaign of 90-second spots would be too expensive for most advertisers. But the Liberals don't have that worry, because they're using your money. The campaign was budgeted at $15 million last year, but the true cost won't be known until next summer.
The star of those once-a-week extended-play spots is Premier Christy Clark, which will surprise people who thought that's what ex-broadcaster Pamela Martin was hired for.
Clark does a stand-up and introduces a topic - trades training, for instance - then throws to an expert who outlines the issue.
Then she closes the bit, with another pitch for the jobs plan.
Whenever a politician wangles face time in a government ad campaign, it becomes a lot more about the politician than it does about the issue being advertised.
The striking thing about the campaign is that it's at odds with some of the expert advice the B.C. Liberals listened to at their Whistler convention a few weeks ago. The party invited two campaign experts from Ontario and Alberta - Don Guy and Stephen Carter - to speak at a closed-door session.
Both are notable for their involvement in surprise wins. Given the B.C. Liberals' current standing, that's precisely why there were invited.
The general thrust of their message - as leaked by dozens of tweets - was that the electorate is very volatile and many people won't decide their votes until the last week before the May 2013 election. Which makes you wonder why the government is cranking up a blitz six months out.
Vancouver Sun reporter Jonathan Fowlie later posted a transcript of part of their presentation.
As Guy said: "The most important thing ... is are we delivering information that the voter can relate to and finds useful?"
Some parts of the advice do apply to the ad blitz now underway. Carter spoke about showing voters you're doing something you believe in. He stressed the need to find people with passion and conviction and use them on the team.
Guy advised Liberals to use all the tools at their disposal and push a consistent, coherent set of supportive messages delivered across a series of platforms, "at the time voters were ready to pay attention."
It looks as if the Liberals absorbed about half of that message. The government is sincerely committed to the plan. And obviously they're going to be consistent in pushing the jobs plan from now to May.
But the rest of the advice was about timing the campaign properly, and being adept strategically and targeting their message in a sophisticated way.
Clark's ever-changing communication team has ignored all that. They're simply going to bulldoze one message - "we've got a jobs plan" - as far as they can.
Although the jobs plan is overexposed and over-hyped, it's actually a well-thought-out piece of work. Too bad people will likely be sick to death of hearing about it - and tired of paying for that privilege - by the time the real campaign begins.
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