In the weeks leading up to ballot day, the Ontario Premier Election took over conversations among Canadians. From the shifts in the polls, to cross-country campaign footage, to allegations in the news, each turn of events kept us locked in anticipation. From beginning to end, Kathleen Wynne, Doug Ford, and Andrea Horwath each inarguably had strong words about their own platforms and one another’s. We’ve broken down how Canadians were getting their messages during the campaign:

  • The first televised debate, which aired May 7th on City Ontario reached over 10 per cent of adults 18+ on average, with an overall viewer turnout of over 1 milllion
  • The second and final debate on May 27th, which aired on Global Ontario, CBC Toronto, CHCH+, and CBC News Network+ drew nearly 1.5 million Ontarian voter-aged viewers. However, across all channels only about 4 per cent of adults 18+ were reached on average.

So, it’s possible that while the country continued to follow the election, tune-ins were less frequent because more voters had made up their minds. By this point, they were much more likely to have seen campaign commercials as well.

TV commercial activity for the three main parties.

CMR data reveals that each of the three main parties ran 15 or 30 second creatives outlining the advantages of their platform and the disadvantages of their competitors. The Ontario Liberal Party ran six creative campaigns warning against voting for Doug Ford, and two outlining the accomplishments of Kathleen Wynne. The Ontario NDP Party ran two campaigns criticizing both the Liberal and PC policies, and two outlining Andrea Horwath’s pledges. Finally, the Ontario PC Party creatives focused primarily on promoting Doug Ford’s platform and constituents, with only two of seven criticizing the Ontario NDP and Liberal policies.

In the four weeks leading up to election week, each party ramped up the overall number of creatives on-air seen by adults 18+. Ontario NDP ran ads across each of the four weeks leading up to the election, achieving more Program GRPs than any other party. All three parties ran ads on Global Ontario more than any other station, and focused heavily on Ontario conventional stations in general. However, Ontario PC ran more ads on Sportsnet+, HGTV Canada, and Food Network Canada, than any other conventional network, making them the party to put the heaviest focus on specialty networks. All three parties put considerable inventory into advertising during the Global Morning and Evening News shows. The Ontario Liberal and NDP also went heavier on Breakfast Television and City News. However, the #1 delivery program for Ontario PC was the Sportsnet Central AM show. See more details in the chart below.

Campaign creatives also had considerable success on YouTube. Many of the same ads seen on linear TV were used, resulting in a similar mix of promotional and criticism ads. Ontario Liberal’s YouTube channel shows 37 videos posted during the campaign period that have amassed over 2.5 million views overall. The NDP’s channel, with 10 videos garnered about 16,000 views, while the Ontario PC channel with 40 videos resulted in roughly 3.8 million. Of all the creatives, the two most viewed were Kathleen Wynne’s Better Never Stops with 1.6 million, and Doug Ford’s Empowering People narrated by his wife Karla, with 1.8 million.

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Posted by Anja Bundze

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