Thursday, April 09, 2009

You're Eyes And Ears Didn't Lie

I remember many Liberals openly wondering why it was that Conservative ads seemed to be more prevalent in the last election. It seemed the Conservative ads were everywhere, relative to the Liberal ads. However, it was all chalked up to an illusion, we just hadn't seen or heard the Liberal ads, because we were spending the maximum, tit for tat with the Conservatives.

Old news now, but interesting to find out that our eyes and ears didn't lie:
The Liberal Party's 2008 Election Campaign Return confirms that the party was massively outspent by the Conservatives in last fall's general election campaign, particularly in the categories of Broadcast Advertising, Leader's Tour, and Other expenses, although they did pay more for Polling and Professional Services.

According to the party's campaign return, which has just been posted on the Elections Canada website, Liberals spent just 72.6% of their national spending limit.

If you look at the breakdown in the link, the Conservatives essentially outspent us a staggering 2 to 1 in advertising. I have to question our priorities, because advertising is a chief consideration. The sting more pronounced when we learn we burned more than TWICE the expenditure of the Conservatives on polling, SEVEN times that of the NDP, despite them spending the maximum. Also, despite only spending 73% of the maximum, we still managed to double the national office allocation of the Conservatives, which was DOUBLE what we spent in 2006. I find that a hard swallow, given the lack of funds- why all this money for polls and headquarters wasn't spent more wisely on advertising is real head scratcher. But, what do I know?

Now I know why Rossi says the fundraising gap, as was previously constructed, represented a "threat to democracy", because clearly we were doomed financially.


Karen said...

I haven't gone through all those numbers, (but I will), but a quick glance suggests our allocation was out of whack, completely.

The answer often to these situations lies in the expertise of the one at the top...and I mean management here. Whatever their lean is, is how the money is funneled. That's classic and dangerous.

That is why it's so important to have some flexibility in structure during different periods. Right now I presume the focus is fund raising and perhaps polling. Travel, etc, worms it's way in too. But whatever the focus, that should be the one directing the $, with oversight obviously.

I don't discount experience in these matters, but sometimes 'old school' has no application to today. The contrary is also true. Getting the mix right is what is valuable.

Good post. Here's to a wiser future!

Anonymous said...

The truth was that the Grits were not prepared to run a winning campaign in 2008 and Dion did not have the horses ready to help him when it mattered.

Money spent on polling meant loss on moral compass. It represents also uneasiness on the Green Shift and the party's desperate attempt to sell it to the public.

The office allocation problem was based on the weakness in leadership. There was never a unitary voice among the Grits. Local MPs decide that getting their name out in the public and canvassing were necessary to secure re-election. In fact, many sitting caucus members dread going to Ottawa to see Dion's performance. They would win in spite of Dion, not because of him.

You can argue that the Cons use in-and-out to get the word out, especially in marginal ridings. It will be the intention of Iggy to run a more nationally centred campaign the next time.

JimmE said...

So we were both stupid & incompetent !! ?
If so, we deserved to loose.
This is shameful, - I feel cheated.

Steve V said...

What I wonder, all the money raised during the campaign, the pleas, was it spent during the election, as advertised, or stowed away for other things?

Cathie from Canada said...

Hmmm, Steve, interesting question.
The spending on polls and headquarters just confirms the failures in direction and leadership that voters saw during this campaign. Now we see why voters never got to know Dion.

ch said...

About the pleas during the election, they still went into debt, didn't they? If so, there wasn't anything to stow away - just less debt to incur.

The ads they did run didn't have the punch to change voters minds. Frankly, I am not sure how much difference more of them would have made. Dion has many strengths, but marketing is not one of them, and it is said that he closely oversaw the ads. One of the ad execs complained about this.

Steve V said...

I'm not sure of the difference either, for the reasons you stated, but that's really not the point in terms of overall strategy. If I'm sitting there pre-writ and somebody tells me we will be outspent 2-1 on advertising, my first thought is "ouch".

JimmE said...

I hate to say it but this lack of campaign basics, Dion's lack of Political savvy election night & his statement (or lack thereof) on the coalition crisis points me, reluctantly, to the conclusion that all this was his fault.

JimmE said...

"If I'm sitting there pre-writ and somebody tells me we will be outspent 2-1 on advertising, my first thought is "ouch"."

What burns my grits is one assumes this was the world presented, THE LEADER KNEW the campaign would be in the fall, they wanted it to be the F-ing fall!! Why the lack of A PLAN? The Leader & HIS Team could have done lots of things for (almost) FREE such as:

No money? Write a book & get on the DAILY SHOW - didn't do that.
Still no money, fine, make the election on your terms - didn't do that.
Make sure election is referendum on the Government NOT your plan, frame your plan as solution - didn't do that.
Tories run negative pre-writ ads, - answer back, & back it up on You Tube - didn't do that.
(or Take the You Tube ad put em on a broadcast tape & call the press & book an Ad by then pull the ads - get your story out for free) - didn't do that.
Still no money? Get out of Dodge, & do pre writ interviews with the editorial board of every local paper in the country.- didn't do that.
No money for a plane? Make Leader's Tour a GREEN Tour (Speak to YOUR Issue-hello, anyone?) a bus, a Train, Main street at the intersection of several urban ridings on Bicycle! Charter planes where required - put out the call for money for Offset Credits, make sure they are NEW CANADIAN MADE Aircraft, but Make it about your issue! - didn't do that.
Got a complex issue you're running on? Have a simple explanation - didn't do that.
Got able Liberals not involved in the central campaign - get them involved in some way - didn't do that.
(Aside from Mr K. I know of several who if not pissing into the tent were actively working for a Tory or Dipper candidate!)

Some of this stuff is BASIC, people including me were telling people in the Leader's office this $hit IN THE SPRING OF 2008.

Sorry for the BMW but I feel used big time.