Earlier this week, I examined the Ford Nation YouTube Channel and offered my thoughts on what Rob and Doug Ford do well, do poorly, and why politicians, political candidates and campaigns should care about the Ford brothers’ video effort.

Since then I’ve spoken with Chris Hannay of the Globe and Mail about the different video stylings and impacts of the three major federal leaders and what we can learn from their unique approaches to video. I remarked to Chris that no one leader has the monopoly on effective use of video. In fact, a combination of the three approaches (with some modifications) would make a more remarkable channel, overall.

This post highlights some of my observations and thoughts on the YouTube video activities of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. I’ve included some video examples.

You may also be interested in the following articles I wrote on the role of video in campaigns:

Prime Minister Harper and the 24seven video series

The Prime Minister has been a longtime user of video. The PMO YouTube channel hosts 702 videos dating as far back as December 2006. Another YouTube Channel, PM Stephen Harper, hosts an additional 146 videos (and at one point hosted a great video capturing the PM performing “With a Little Help From My Friends” with renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma).

It’s the former of these two accounts which has attracted the most attention over recent months. That’s the account the PMO is using for a video called “24 Seven.” It’s a brand journalism play, allowing the PMO to be its own media organization.

Some of the 24 Seven videos have fewer than 100 views. The first 24 Seven video (immediately below this paragraph) was released January 9, 2014 and remains the most popular in the series with just over 10,500 views at the time of this writing. That’s a very small, very niche audience, probably consisting of a mix of media, analysts, pundits and party faithful. A very, very small audience considering the population the PM represents.

The concept is very smart. The execution is generally off the mark, hamstrung by weak narration which is further hampered by poor audio quality. The PM generally comes off as being ill at ease flying solo addressing the camera directly. This was evident in the Instagram and YouTube videos announcing the cabinet shuffle last summer.

The most recent 24 Seven video provides another good example (see the video that follows the next paragraph, 932 views at the time of writing). It also features the clunky mention of Sarah Burke being “a real pioneer in her particular sport” rather than identifying the sport (freestyle skiing).

On the plus side, the cutaways of the Prime Minister attention-getting (in a positive way), showing the PM relaxed, moving with purpose and engaging with people in non-staged ways. These are great video moments which compete with the more prominently placed stiff moments. As such, they are likely to go unnoticed.

Thomas Mulcair in action videos

The NDP YouTube channel has requisite QP appearances, excerpts of speeches and some official holiday announcements by party leader Thomas Mulcair. It is otherwise an uninspired channel. Individual MPs do a much better job connecting with Canadians on their personal YouTube channels. This argument is further supported by the number of views of videos on this channel, few of which break the 300 view barrier.

The most recent video features an impassioned excerpt of a speech by Thomas Mulcair who speaks on behalf of Canadians living paycheque to paycheque (546 views at the time of writing.


The Young New Democrats have scored a bigger hit with a video they released February 19, 2014 which parodies Facebook’s “Look Back” videos marking the 10 year anniversary of the social networking site, providing a critical retrospective of eight years of Prime Minister Stephen Harper (15,220 views as of this writing).

Justin Trudeau and the gamble on long-form video

“Justin Trudeau: An economy that benefits us all” was published to YouTube on February 18. At nearly seven and a half minutes in duration, it’s unusual for a purpose-built video. Since then, it has been watched 28.744 times (as of this writing), approaching three times the views  the first 24seven video which was posted January 9, about a month and a half ago.

Surprised by the daring move of posting such a long video, to not only communicate an idea but provide substance to the discussion, I contacted someone I know who works for the Liberal party. That source checked the YouTube analytics and determined nearly 70% of viewers have watched the full length of the video, noting the rate of full-length views was much higher when the video was first released and watched by some of the more party-faithful.

The most popular video on the Liberal channel is the “#RealPriorities” television spot. It’s accumulated over 1.2 million views in the three months it’s been online, partly juiced by it being an autoplay video on the party’s YouTube channel page.