Ontario PC Party Rebrands to be more Inclusive

Every political party is a brand. They build their identity to grow their support. They use emotions to sell you on their beliefs and they attempt to connect with you through their promises. But what happens when a political party abandons their loyal community to go after a different one after decades of campaigning the same promise? That is the case with the Ontario PC party. I’m a firm believer in staying true to your core values and beliefs. But, when they no longer resonate with a community, politicians must look to change the approach of their party’s promise, not the promise itself. Why? It devalues both what their brand has stood for and their loyal brand community that has stood by them through thick and thin.

While Kathleen Wynne has enjoyed her 3-year run with an Ontario Liberal majority government, Ontario PC leader, Patrick Brown is eager to completely change his party’s promise. Their latest 20-second ad is meant to create a feeling of inclusivity before Ontarians head to the polls in 2018.

A Time of Desperation or Necessary Change for the Ontario PC Party?

The Ontario PC party has undergone plenty of changes since Tim Hudak’s departure as party leader in 2014. Let’s be clear: If Tim Hudak and his campaign team presented their promise with a different approach, he may have changed his fate for the better. His pledge to slash 100,000 jobs in the public sector was the turning point in his campaign that drew an overwhelming amount of negativity. Everyone was nervous and rightfully so.

Two years ago, Patrick Brown’s victory speech signaled a shift in the party’s brand messaging. Since 1867, the Ontario PC’s have focused on wealthy, white Christian men. Taking a page out of the Justin Trudeau playbook, Brown spoke about his commitment to having a party built on multicultural representation: “I want a member of our party on every block, in every neighbourhood across our province, reconnecting us with the people of Ontario.”

In their new ads, the PC’s openly called out to and welcomed low income, minority, union and different religious groups to their party – a drastic change in their political approach.

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The Ontario PC Party Attempts to Rebrand

Brown immediately set forth this new action plan, attempting to regain the trust of many voters who have tuned out the party for more than a decade. As part of their rebranding strategy, the PC’s have released numerous 20-second spots with the tagline, “I Believe”, which can be seen on their YouTube channel. Each video tackles issues that people in Ontario face on a daily basis, such as affordable housing and jobs. The PC’s new approach also signalled a change with their logo to visually showcase the party’s new direction throughout the ads.

The U.S. has always had a strong polarity with their Democratic and Republican parties. Although not as strong, Canada has had a similar polarity between Liberals and Conservatives, both provincially and federally. Since Ontario is now predominantly Liberal, the Conservatives are now in desperation mode. They are now adopting “Liberal promises” so they can to appeal to a wider segment of Ontario’s population. It’s the wrong approach. While the Liberals are not a write-off to win the election next year by any means, it would be foolish to count them out. I believe that the greatest political threat for the Liberals is themselves. As the old saying goes – “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” The Liberals need to make sure that they stay in line with the devil that everyone wants to keep as Ontario’s governing party.

Dating back to Dalton McGuinty’s tenure as party leader, the Ontario Liberal party has had 3 majority governments in their last 4 terms. That’s over 10 years of Liberal rule. Why?

Related: New Ontario Progressive Conservative Logo Fails - Wayne S Roberts

Is the new logo part of a larger rebranding strategy to attract Liberal voters? It uses a “Liberal” shade of red and the ads have shifted to a more “inclusive tone” on topics such as unions, immigrants and income.

Cultural Inclusivity

The Liberals position themselves as welcoming and accommodating people from all walks of life. As a result, they are able to strengthen their support across different cultures who are all looking for equal opportunities. The PC’s are now walking a fine line between changing their approach for the greater good of Ontario and bold-faced vote-getting. Is the party truly going to embrace more cultural attitudes through a more Liberal approach? Or is this rebranding strategy built on a foundation of expedient political motivation? I think it’s the latter - The PC party is desperate for votes.

What about the NDP?

Both the Liberals and Conservatives are aiming to get closer to the middle of the political spectrum in the hopes of attracting those few votes that have traditionally gone to the NDP’s – votes that will make all the difference come election time. Andrea Horwath and the NDP party have always been committed to the working class, creating warm and fuzzy campaign promises by humanizing their brand with all types of cultures. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal party have done this too – although their promises have disappeared far too often. The PC’s can only hope that Ontario will offer their support in trusting a warm and fuzzy Patrick Brown as the better alternative in 2018.

Trust is Key

The PC’s are clearly attempting to change their brand messaging to become a party with similar values as the Liberal and NDP parties. They want to be seen as the party that can be trusted to make better decisions for Ontario, while expanding the inclusivity of their campaign to attract votes. But it begs the question: How are the core supporters of the party going to react to inclusiveness come election time? Will their existing brand community accept these changes or reject them? Although the party has established a new voice and a new approach, they still need the most important ingredient of all: Trust. I believe that the highest chance for an Ontario PC majority or a minority government in 2018 is through the opportunity for more broken promises by the Liberal government. Their inclusive strategy will only drive their core supporters further away. They will either vote Liberal, or not at all.

Do you think the Ontario PC’s are keeping the best interests of Ontarians in mind, or are they simply making false promises so they can get back to their glory days as Ontario’s natural governing party?

Tell us what you think in the comment section below!

Do you trust the Ontario PC's commitment to a new direction and values?

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Andrew Basso

Blade Project/Account Coordinator, Andrew brings a natural desire to learn, with a passion to explore the latest trends in the advertising and marketing industry. His experience allows him to thrive when coordinating various projects and accounts for our clients. Andrew welcomes opportunities to try new things every day and lives by this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

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