As the CEO of a public relations and public affairs company, I’ve spent a lot of time creating slogans and brand statements. At this early stage of the campaign, then, I thought I might offer a quick assessment of the various campaign slogans in play – recognizing that the events of the campaign and the results of the election will be the greatest tests of whether the party slogans were effective.
Campaign slogans are a political party’s best chance to encapsulate their policies and philosophies in a single soundbite. Slogans are shorthand for a party’s beliefs and should provide busy voters with just enough information for a quick gut check on values. The best slogans are those which help to frame the ballot question and stake out a position for the party relative to other campaigns.
In the 2015 election, both the Liberals and NDP used their campaign slogans to urge a change away from the Conservatives – opting for “Real Change” and “Ready for Change” respectively. In this election, none of the opposition slogans contain the word ‘change’ – and most parties have adopted slogans which instead suggest a theme of positive momentum as opposed to a sharp course correction.
Interestingly, none of the five main parties have opted to use ‘Canada’ in their slogans – a change from what we’ve seen in the past 15 years. There are no slogans speaking about of a ‘Strong Canada,’ ‘Safer Canada,’ or a ‘Canada That Works,’ nor are the main parties calling on voters to ‘Rise Up for Canada,’ ‘Stand up for Canada’ or ‘Choose your Canada’ as in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2015.
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal slogan reflects the fact that they want voters to see the election as a binary choice between themselves and the Conservatives. They want Canadians to think that if the Liberals are for moving forward the Conservatives must be for moving backward – a clear play on the Liberal message that leader Andrew Scheer would revert back to the policies, politics and priorities of Stephen Harper.
Conservative Party of Canada
“It’s time for you to get ahead”
The Conservative slogan is one of two, alongside that of the NDP, which puts a literal and figurative emphasis on ‘you.’ The underlying message is that Canadians are being held back and that they have been for too long. The subtle contrast here is that unspoken ‘others’ are getting ahead while the Tories target voter is being left behind, which could be hinting at a ‘you vs. them’ dynamic.
New Democratic Party of Canada
“In it for you”
The NDP, like the Conservatives, is putting a visual emphasis on ‘you’ but in a different context. The contrast implied in the NDP slogan is that they are working on behalf of the average voter where, presumably, the other parties are only working for themselves. It goes to motivation, possibly ethics and is not unlike the NDP’s selfless slogan from the 2011 election: ‘Working for Families.’
Green Party of Canada
“Not Left. Not Right. Forward Together”
The Green Party slogans sets out a clear contrast between the other parties and adopts a theme which has been used by Liberal parties across Canada – they are neither on the left or the right of the political spectrum. Having asserted they are a centrist party, the Green slogan moves to position the party as unifiers moving Canadians forward, another echo of the Liberals, by bringing all Canadians together.
People’s Party of Canada
“Strong and Free”
The People’s Party slogan co-opts traditional conservative language with a nod to patriotic symbolism. A snippet from the national anthem, the emphasis on “free” will be viewed by some as a populist appeal which aligns with what many see as the party’s political philosophy. The word ‘strong’ was used by the Harper Conservatives in 2015, both in terms of a strong Canada and a strong economy.