Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

“There’s a high cost in doing Muskrat Falls wrong…”

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

...there's power in doing it right.The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has sold the massive Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project as a giant leap forward in power generation. But to the people who live, fish and hunt in the area, it represents something much different.

To them, it means flooding 41 square kilometres — and creating a soup of decaying wood and vegetation. The result is an accumulation of potentially dangerous levels of methylmercury, a notorious poison that can cause serious harm to humans, in their fish and other marine foods.

Photo of man in boat leaving shore

Faced with a direct threat to their health and well-being, the Nunatsiavut Government representing the self-governing Inuit people of Labrador set out to build support throughout Newfoundland and Labrador for doing the project the right way. Their message: that Muskrat Falls should proceed only with mitigation measures to safeguard the area’s people and their food, water and land. (more…)

Deeply flattered, Mr. Harper. Really.

Monday, May 25th, 2015

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If so, we’re feeling awfully flattered today.

Here’s an ad we created with the Manitoba NDP during the 2011 provincial election.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd7kp_zZA_8

And here’s an ad the federal Conservatives have just released, four years later:

There’s a reason they’re using our spot, and that’s because it was very effective in Manitoba. It defined Hugh McFadyen and turned the tide at a time when the NDP was vying for a fourth term and trailing the Conservatives in the polls. It spoke to people’s real concerns about Mr. McFadyen and his agenda of cuts and privatization. And it did it in a light way that people could connect with. That, in turn, set the stage for the Manitoba NDP’s come-from-behind victory.

Whether the Conservative ad will be as effective is another question. We believe every campaign is unique, with its own challenges and opportunities. Copying even a highly successful ad (cough, blush) from a previous election isn’t necessarily a smart approach.

Their best point is that Mr. Trudeau isn’t ready for the job; the more Canadians look at him ahead of the fall election, the more likely it is they’ll conclude he doesn’t have the experience they want in a Prime Minister.

The problem for the Conservatives (and the Liberals) is that there’s a better choice who is ready. Tom Mulcair has the experience, intelligence and understanding of Canadian families to be their Prime Minister. And after the Quebec breakthrough in 2011, and Rachel Notley’s victory this month in Alberta, Tom’s resume may well be the one that makes it through.

Get me rewrite! Study says many union print ads aren’t connecting with audiences

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Photo of a stack of newspapers

Two University of Saskatchewan researchers are about to publish a must-read study about union communications—specifically, print advertising.

Professors Barb Phillips and Dionne Pohler studied 177 union ads spanning five years, and while “unions are doing a better job on advertising than the researchers thought,” they could be doing a lot better.

“[T]he ads were often far too text heavy, often did not have a call to action, and missed the mark on answering the ‘what-does-this-mean-for-me’ question, particularly when it came to providing an understanding of what unions do for the general public,” according to the university website. “They also found that many union ads too frequently focused on strikes.”

Of course when a strike is underway and your audience is being affected, it’s important to keep communicating, and avoid leaving the conversation exclusively to management. But an effective strategy involves communicating and building support, trust and relationships long before a strike is on the horizon.

And it requires communicating based on your audience’s values, needs and experiences. The study’s authors suggest unions “focus on what they do for society to build good will with the public.”

The study hasn’t been published yet, so we’re not sure exactly how the authors mean this, but we’d frame it more sharply. “Society” doesn’t vote, decide where to shop, or phone their elected representatives; individual people do. Building public support requires you to show your audience how unions benefit them personally.

And there’s another factor we hope the study addresses, one that comes up frequently for us in our work with public- and private-sector unions: the need to engage your members as well as your external audiences. Often labour communications are aimed as much at reinforcing internal solidarity in the face of management attacks, or at mobilizing members to take action, as they are at persuading members of the public. Reconciling messages crafted for those different audiences is one of the biggest challenges unions face.

But that aside, what we’ve seen so far suggests this study could open a lot of eyes. It reinforces much of what NOW’s Paul Degenstein said a few years ago in his manifesto Reviving Labour’s Image, when he urged unions to “Make friends – because when you need a friend, it’s too late to make one,” “Know your audience” and “Talk about them, not you.” It amplifies what Marie Della Mattia told the Canadian Labour Congress Political Action Conference two years ago, when she said “Our real power is when you talk about what’s in it for everyone,” and advised attendees to ask themselves, “Are my words and actions telling everyone, every day, that I care about them?” And it underscores Joanne Deer’s bargaining communications tips published just last month on the Canadian Association of Labour Media blog.

NOW was founded in 1992 to help bring a new communications discipline to the Canadian left, grounded in modern methods and strategies. Progressive communications have come a long way in Canada since then, but this study makes it clear there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

New MGEU ads profile the real people – and services – behind the word “clerical”

Monday, October 20th, 2014

A mosaic of stills from two MGEU ads

Sometimes a vague phrase can hide an important idea — or some important people.

Take “clerical workers”. For most people, those words probably don’t create much of a picture in their heads. Whatever image they do get probably involves paper and not much else.

That’s partly because a lot of the work those employees do happens behind the scenes. Their jobs are a big part of what makes the work of more visible public-sector workers — such as teachers, firefighters, nurses or librarians — as effective and valuable as it is.

That’s the challenge the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union decided to take on with their latest campaign: replacing that vague image with real human faces.

(more…)

Preventing the next disaster: Teamsters Canada campaigns for safer freight rail

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

2014.10.14.teamsters-rail-safety-block-graphic.en

In July of last year, a runaway crude-oil freight train exploded in Lac-Mégantic, killing at least 42 people and devastating the town's centre. It was the deadliest rail disaster in Canada in nearly 150 years… but by no means the only one, with a freight rail accident happening every 60 hours.

In the aftermath of Lac-Mégantic, Canadians have been asking tough questions about rail safety and deregulation. And Teamsters Canada, whose 1250,000 members include more than 12,000 rail workers, is campaigning hard for safer rail transportation.

(more…)

Protecting public services by talking about the elephant in the room

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

ElephantTalk.ca public service awareness campaign logoListen to the public conversation that goes on around government budgets, and you’d swear the only important questions are whether they’re balanced, whether they cut taxes and whether they reduce spending.

The impact those budget decisions have on public services? That usually gets lip service — at best.

That’s partly because many media decision-makers are happy to limit budget conversation to conservative turf. But it’s also because it makes for a simple, easy-to-tell story: lines on graphs go up or down, figures are positive or negative, bond rating agencies are happy or grumpy, and dash 30 dash the article’s done.

Stories about the impact those numbers will have on transit services, ambulance response times or your local library’s supply of new books demand a lot more digging, research and analysis. So too often, they just don’t get told – and the growing pressure on services becomes an elephant in the room.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union is working to change that, starting with a new campaign we’ve helped them to launch. (more…)

Your members may be your most powerful messengers

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Still image from BCTF ad Teachers SpeakWhen you’re creating an ad, the sheer range of choices available to you can make you feel like a seven-year-old set loose in a giant toy store. Brainstorming sessions sometimes go something like this:

“We could have a talking CGI animal!”
“Wait, how about a movie trailer parody?”
“Oh! Oh! We could get Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber to sing a duet about wage parity!”
“Yeah, I like that! And we do it against a backdrop of kittens playing among ancient Greek ruins…”
“We could crowdsource the kittens in a nation-wide contest, and the winner would get a CGI version of their kitten…”
“…voiced by…three words: William. Freakin’. Shatner.”

High-concept ideas are sometimes perfect for the communications task at hand… but not always. Often, a simple, direct approach can deliver a message with far more impact. When people feel like you’re speaking to them honestly and authentically, they can be more open to your message. (more…)