The dad jeans approach

The federal election is still a year away. Yes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could pull a surprise and call an election earlier, taking advantage of the current state of disarray in the NDP, but pundits are betting he won’t.

However, the Conservative Party isn’t taking any chances. The current disarray of the NDP will also be on their minds, given that those disenchanted with Jagmeet Singh and his party are probably more likely to cast a vote for a Liberal than a Conservative. This means less vote splitting on the left/centre, meaning Conservatives need to be ready for this election.

The first order of business is to get the Canadian voter acquainted with Andrew Scheer. This is a big task, as Scheer, though he has been in Parliament since 2004 and did serve as Speaker, is hardly a household name. He squeaked to victory in the Conservative Leadership convention on the 13th ballot, with 50.95 per cent of the vote. He’s not flamboyant, he’s not really an attention seeker, although all who have met him agree he seems a nice chap.

So, the Party bosses have begun a series of TV buys aimed at providing the introduction, and viewing the first one, the strategy is immediately apparent.

Scheer is being presented as the anti-Trudeau.

You know the song, he’s a good boy, loves his momma…. Not that Trudeau doesn’t, but you can see where this is going. The commercial begins with Scheer speaking of his devotion to his mother and her hard work and sacrifice. All the while, pictures of the wholesome Scheer family are presented.

Subliminal messages – he’s productive, five kids.

The children look delightful, some in green Saskatchewan hoodies. The overall look is slightly rumpled, not a designer outfit to be found. The Trudeau family, while immensely photogenic, does not often appear rumpled in public — well, maybe the youngest one, but the parents, no.

Scheer himself smiles a cheery smile and looks so wholesome, you just want to pinch his pink cheeks, no doubt coloured by the brisk Prairie breeze.

Look how normal we are! the ad screams. Such a typical Canadian family! You will never see us dressing up in cultural garb should we visit another country! The only cultural garb you will see a Scheer in is a Stetson at Stampede! And that’s okay! Because we love cowboys! And girls!

Scheer met with the Indian PM Narendra Modi this week on a trip to India. I’m betting, he will not don traditional Indian garb on the trip, and perhaps a juxtaposition of himself and Trudeau on their respective trips may be featured in a future commercial.

The first TV commercial is continuing a theme begun last fall, when Scheer starred in another introductory commercial, described thusly by Emma Teitel of the Star.

“If you’re an average-looking conservative politician running for the highest office in the nation against two very handsome, left-leaning competitors, both of whom have been written up in top fashion magazines, how do you use your difference to your advantage? Easy. You flaunt it. You do exactly as federal Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer did this month in a new campaign spot: You put on your least remarkable shirt and your most forgiving pair of pants and you tell your fellow country men and women that the mild-mannered schlub standing before them is the answer to what ails them.”

Mild-mannered schlub notwithstanding, it appears from the latest ad that the Scheer campaign is taking this advice wholeheartedly.

They are presenting a Canadian everyman. In his dad jeans. Perhaps cracking the odd dad joke. Inoffensive, non-threatening. And his niceness may work for him. It’s certainly a sharp change from previous Conservative commercials.

Unlike his predecessor, Steven Harper, Andrew Scheer comes across like he could pose for a Christmas card holding a kitten and not look like he was contemplating biting its head off.

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