Mocking your political opponents using social media can occasionally make a direct hit
On the weekend BC Liberal Party operatives launched Dix's Hidden Plan, a social media marketing scheme meant to remind the public that we have no idea what the NDP's political agenda is should they form government next year. I'm sure party operatives were pleased with the full-page in The Province covering DHP, but I can't tell you from the early responses whether the site hit its mark.
Political parties typically do not sponsor these kinds of attack campaigns directly, and usually rely upon third party supporters to stage them. That changed when the NDP in early 2011 launched the Christy Crunch ad campign. At the time the BC Liberals were ahead in the polls, and now that the tables are turned the governing BC Liberals feel the need to go on the attack.
Having the political parties themselves launch these campaigns seems like an odd strategy. I've found the most effective campaigns are usually conducted by interested third parties. There are rare times when they really work, and many times when they fall flat.
When it comes to third party sites that successfully mock the BC NDP I'll take you into the time machine back to 2006, and a (now semi-legendary) anonymous website called BC Poly Blog. It was done only for six months, and to this day I have no idea who the author was (though I was flattered to have my personal blog linked to it). I've no doubt the BC Poly Blog was dreamt up by a clever BC Liberal, and it was merciless when it came to the BC NDP and especially the BCTF. In fact, the teacher's trade union threatened to sue Google to release the name of the person who authored the site (Google balked).
One of the funniest posts I recall from BC Poly Blog (I practically did a spit take when I first read it) was titled "Jesus To Gregor: "You Do Not Have A Hope In Hell Of Being Re-Elected!"" At the time the running joke was that the NDP's "star" candidate of the 2005 election – Gregor Robertson – was a dud as an opposition MLA. It had a hilarious image of Gregor walking beside Christ while the Son of God seemed to be ignoring the Juice Man:
Poor NDP MLA Gregor Robertson, the under achieving over achiever. He seems to be the butt of many jokes (including those found here on this intrepid Poly) and this week while walking in his riding, not even Jesus Christ would give him support.
"It was the best thing I saw or heard ever…while sober", our man on the street reported. "Like, Jesus – or at least someone who looked like the Saviour – wanted nothing to do with Gregor. See! Look, I took a photo!"
The photo from our contact's cell phone shows Gregor talking up a storm while Jesus tries walking away, even looking to the heaven's for strength.
"Gregor was all like, 'Jesus you just have to come to my Town Hall Meeting on Monday' and Jesus is all like, 'What will you be discussing?' and Gregor goes, "Dude, I don't know, the unions have not given me the agenda yet.'"
BC Poly Blog became the gold standard for Onion-esque wit in BC politics, using Photoshopped images to good effect (City Caucus has succeeded in doing that kind of BC political cartooning since). It was really only read by a small group of media and political insiders, and that was the point. Get the other guys off their game with some inside baseball. The majority of voters don't care about this stuff.
If mocking Adrian Dix is what folks want to do they could start here, although if it were my decision I wouldn't spend a minute making fun of the NDP's leader (previous attempts have fallen flat) and would instead focus on the party.
The BC Liberals have tried using humour in the past to make their point with mixed results. A group of supporters from the party's youth wing were supposedly behind a website called NDP Affairs. While it had the right idea – connect NDP elected officials with their union backers – the flash site was modeled around a sleezy motel theme that was deemed too risqué and possibly sexist and was quickly pulled down. It's interesting to note that NDP Affairs was also built in response to flagging BC Liberal poll numbers, but Gordon Campbell's government still managed to get re-elected the following year.
There is plenty to challenge the BC NDP on, not the least of which was the less than open way they chose their leader. This collection of reports illustrates that well enough:
The backroom boys in all the parties are cooking up their schemes to attack and embarrass their opponents, just as with every election. It's probably wise to leave the parties and the elected officials out of the negative campaigns, and have the Premier and her caucus focus on their opponents. I think the public would truly like to know what the NDP has in mind for BC.
– post by Mike