Long before modern culture created branding and values alignment, 1960s politicians rankled at Madison Avenue advertising gurus who spoke of “selling politicians like soap.”
While branding is more subtle, complex and intricate, many time honoured principles still apply, particularly when voters ask: Is a certain politician likable? Trustworthy? Do they understand my life? Are they on my side?
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already hit his “best before date” with many Western Canadians, next October’s election will be settled in vote-rich Central Canada. And it will feature some important perceptions that will determine the Liberal PM’s fate.
His supporters will cite Trudeau’s continuing “sunny ways” approach, anti-Stephen Harper themes (still) and the international fawning and selfies that still accompany his frequent overseas trips.
His critics will key in on Trudeau’s congenital need to grandstand, virtue signal and pander to the latest trendy cause or flavour of the week celebrity. This behaviour, by itself, doesn’t sink political ships. But the boat starts to take on water when a politician’s actions accentuate a lack of resonance with voters.
Support begins to slide every time a voter asks, “Does this guy have any idea what my work and life are like and how we make the rent?” Ditto for “are his interests and priorities the same as mine?”
The “tweeting bro” exchange with entertainer Trevor Noah, in which Trudeau offers up $50 million Canadian tax dollars like it was his personal Telemiracle pledge doesn’t require a detailed explanation. Yes, the money was part of a disproportionately large half-billion dollars earlier committed by Trudeau to gender-focused education in developing nations.