Trudeau ad doesn't meet Expectations

  • National Newswatch

By Gerry Nicholls | April 25, 2013To have high expectations for yourself can be a wonderful thing, but when others impose high expectations on you, it can be a burdensome pain.Just ask Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.For months the media has been building up our Trudeau expectations to sky high levels.We were told again and again about how his combination of sex appeal, political pedigree and celebrity status made him a once in a generation-style leader whose unlimited charisma would energize and enthrall millions of Canadians.So when word leaked out the Liberals were going to air a TV ad to counteract recent Conservative attack spots, I was excited to see the political superhero in action.But when the ad came out and my first reaction was: Yawn.Or to put it in more technical terms, the ad lacked both razzle and dazzle.It featured Trudeau sitting in a classroom uttering a series of uninspired platitudes, which gave you the sense his spiel wasn't actually written but was instead created by a random cliché generator.“Together we will build a better country”; “Canadians deserve better”. Blah, blah blah.Trudeau even looked bored delivering his lines.In other words the supposedly charismatic Trudeau actually came across as dull.In fact, the Justin Trudeau in the much maligned Conservative attack ad, where he performed a mock striptease and executed an operatic bow, was more interesting to watch than the Justin Trudeau in the Liberal ad.What's worse, the ad's overall visual imagery made Trudeau look like a substitute math teacher, not a prime-minister in waiting.And that's a serious deficiency when you consider the ad is supposed to counteract Tory claims that Trudeau is not a leader.Now I'm not saying the Liberal ad was all bad.For one thing, its positive tone certainly helps to contrast Trudeau's supposed idealism with the Conservative Party's Genghis Khan-style approach to politics.Additionally, I suspect the ad's real purpose is basically to reassure the Liberal Party base that Conservative media attacks will not go unanswered.And on that level the ad will definitely work; people who already like Trudeau will also like the ad.But my point is, Trudeau's performance was nothing special. He looked ordinary and he didn't come across as a leader.And according to all the media buildup, Trudeau is supposed to be anything but ordinary.He's supposed to be a media star, whose commanding presence would captivate a nation.That's his whole political bit. His personality, his style, his flash, all these things are what make him special.If he loses that, he has nothing.Certainly, he can't boast about a successful career in business or politics; he has no detailed policy platform to fall back upon. Nor does he or his party have a regional base.The whole Liberal future rests on Trudeau's adorable shoulders.If his image gets tarnished, the party is finished.That's why it's of paramount importance for the Liberals to keep their leader's pizzazz alive.The Liberal ad doesn't do that; it does the opposite.Now one bad ad, doesn't mean Trudeau will be a failure.But it does mean the Liberals must try harder to meet the public and the media's high expectations of Trudeau.And that won't be easy, but then again, as the Toronto Blue Jays know full well, living up to hype never is.About GerryGerry Nicholls is a communications consultant and writer who has been called a “political warrior” a “brilliant strategist” and one of the “canniest political observers in Canada.”He has worked as a consultant in both the United States and Canada and was formerly a senior officer in the National Citizens Coalition, Canada's largest organization for the defence of economic and political freedoms.A regular columnist with the Ottawa Hill Times, his work has also appeared in the Globe and Mail, the National Post , National NewsWatch and in the Sun Media chain; and he has appeared on countless TV and radio public affairs