Liberals Need a Cardboard Strategy

  • National Newswatch

In case you haven't noticed, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's entire strategy can be summed up in two simple words: photo op.OK, that's more like one and a half words, but you get my point.Rather than focusing on hard to explain stuff like policies and platforms, Trudeau is using charming photo ops to convince Canadians that he has what it takes to lead our country.Photo op, of course, is short for “photo opportunities”, a term which reflects their function, i.e. to give the media an opportunity to take a picture of a politician doing something cool, such as standing next to the world's largest kumquat.At any rate, Trudeau is a master at this particular public relations tactic.Indeed over the past year or so, the media has assaulted our visionary senses with all sorts of delightful Trudeau photo ops; sometimes he's balancing a baby on one hand, sometimes he's wearing a cowboy hat and sometimes he's standing fully clothed in a pool.Talk about cute overload!But is totally ignoring policy and relying completely on Trudeau's photogenic cuteness really a good political strategy for electoral victory?You bet it is.In fact, the better question is, how can any red-blooded Canadian voter possibly gaze at Trudeau's various photo ops and not have an uncontrollable desire to vote Liberal?After all, we are a visual species; strong images move us, if only on a subconscious level.What I mean is, our subconscious mind tells us that if Trudeau can balance a baby on one hand, then he must also be capable of balancing the budget. (Our subconscious minds aren't all necessarily all that bright.)Yet – good as it is --- the Liberal photo op strategy also has one glaring weakness: there's only one Justin Trudeau.According to the laws of physics, Trudeau can only pose for photographs in one place at one time, meaning the Liberal Party is limited in how many photo ops it can churn out on a daily basis.That might not matter right now, but imagine the problems this could pose for the Liberals during the federal election, when both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (two non-photogenic politicians) will be flooding the media air waves with all kinds of policy pronouncements on important issues like taxes, foreign policy and the proper treatment of Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys.Trudeau and the Liberals will only be able to respond to such a policy barrage with two, or at most three, photo ops per day, clearly putting them at a serious communication disadvantage.Fortunately for them there's a solution to this problem, which I'm happy to share. All the Liberals need to do is print out thousands of life-size Justin Trudeau cardboard cutouts.Do you see where I'm going here?By using cardboard Trudeau cutouts, the Liberals would be able to arrange a virtually unlimited number of imaginatively awesome photo ops.On one day alone, for instance, the Liberals could set up a photo op of the cardboard Trudeau posing next to a polar bear in Inuvik; while another cardboard Trudeau is perched atop Toronto's CN Tower, while still another is in Halifax crammed inside a lobster trap.The media, needless to say, would love it.The only possible drawback with this idea is that if the Liberals end up winning the election, they might mistakenly make one of the Trudeau cardboard cutouts our next prime minister instead of the real Trudeau.But then again, would anybody ever notice?(Gerry Nicholls is a communications consultant.)