One word Liberals should learn: Imprinting

When you’re on top, you can do no wrong. And, of course, the opposite is true…

Plenty of advice, as happens every time the Liberals stall. I agree, a lot of the second guessing is mostly useless, much of the current circumstance a well established, historically validated, trend for the official opposition and their leader. That said, the Liberals would be wise to not merely comfort themselves in past analogies, because every situation is unique and healthy concern is warranted.

I watched Question Period Sunday. On the program, there was Rob Nicholson hammering the law and order agenda, using the same lines he’s used for years, making the same baseless, maddening accusations, facts be damned, over and over and over. The appearance highlights, in the simplest terms, a lesson the Liberals do need to learn. 

Jennifer Ditchburn made the point on At Issue last week that day to day, she didn’t understand where the Liberals were going, as a reporter she found it hard to get direction. It’s true, anyone who watches Question Period or scans the daily press releases from the OLO, can see a host of issue tackled. In theory, this practice is sound, because there are a myriad of issues which deserve equal attention. However, in terms of political strategy, I’m not sure this philosophy is helping the party brand or the leader.

If there is one word Liberals could learn, I would submit it is "imprinting". The Conservatives are masters at it, simple, concise messaging, on the same topics, over and over and over, to the point of nausea for the frequent observer. The key point, the ordinary voter isn’t engaged, meaning the repetition is less pronounced, but particularly effective.

Have you noticed recently that advertisers have used repetitive advertising? A program now will have the same ad, shown a few times for any given episode. It is annoying on one level, but seeing the same ad two or three times in a short span has the desired effect- you remember the ad, the product, the message. I don’t like the idea of political parties as corporations, but that doesn’t mean you discount the psychology here. When you use repetition, you tattoo your audience, you cement what you stand for, your brand is easily perceptible. I would submit, Rob Nicholson’s appearance Sunday is an example of imprinting, the art of repetition to gel opinion. Political junkies get lost in the minutiae, the inherent validity of the arguments, but that’s irrelevant, because the target audience isn’t this engaged.

In the last few months, the Liberals actually have brought forth new polices that distinguish. But, if you were to ask Canadians, I doubt they could cite the home care plan, I doubt they have heard about the "planes, prisons" argument, I doubt they can give a clear, concise answer as to what the Liberals stand for. Part of the reason, we pick an issue, emphasis it for a day or two max, then move on to the next matter. In today’s reality, with a completely disengaged electorate, this strategy doesn’t cut it, you need to bore the snot out of we political junkies, repeat, repeat, repeat. 

I would argue, when everyone in Ottawa is moaning about the home care program, saying the Liberals need to shut up about it and move on, then and only then are they truly starting to get the message out. If anyone doubts this fact, look no further than the government of the day… 

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