Tag Archives: branding

Liberal Merchandise: Branding the Brand

Back in 2009 I got an e-mail that made me very happy then very sad. The e-mail, from Michael Ignatieff, told me that I could get a Liberal branded scarf. Unfortunately, to get the scarf I would have to donate $100.  Now, I can’t afford a $100 donation so to this day I don’t have a Liberal scarf.

Since the 2011 election, there has been a lot of talk about the “Liberal brand” but unlike the Conservative party we don’t treat said “brand” seriously enough to take advantage of the merchandising opportunities the 144 years of Liberal Party history has to offer. The Conservative Party of Canada has an online shop, the Liberal Party does not. This is a missed fundraising and brand-building activity for the Liberal Party.

Last night “The Edward Blake Society” held a meet-and-greet with the LPC Presidential candidates. Four of the five candidates attended (you can read my live-tweeting here) and I asked them all about Liberal Merchandise (or #LibSwag or #LPCMerch if you are going to tweet about it.) Thankfully all four presidential candidates endorsed the idea of having LPC merchandise sold online! Here is a summary of our conversations:

Ron Hartling: He said that Liberal branded clothing and accessories should be part of a holistic community outreach approach. One of the first things he did when he became President of the Kingston and the Islands riding association was to order Liberal t-shirts.

Sheila Copps: The former Deputy PM responded to me on twitter saying “I hear that’s in the works for convention, but it is a project I definitely intend to continue! ” During the second debate I attended, Mrs. Copps called for Liberal support packages to be available immediately to each riding association.

Alexandra Mendes: She talked about the variety of merch that will be available at the upcoming Liberal Convention in Ottawa. She also added that it is a no-brainer to have an online Liberal store. This event was my first time meeting Mrs. Mendes in person; she was delightful and insightful.

Mike Crawley: He was emphatically supportive of the idea but stressed that along with t-shirts (which are standard) the items for sale need to be fun and attention grabbing (Mr. Crawley is one of the most enthusiastic people I have met in real life.)

It makes me happy that we have unanimity amongst the Liberal Presidential candidates. This may seem like a small issue but it is the little things that often get ignored, and victory is in the details.


– An article for everyone to read: Obama 2012 Campaign Offers Wide Array Of Swag.

– Some discussion has taken place on twitter and some of the Liberal-Party-Rebuilding facebook groups. Shelia Copps’ proposal of Liberal-promotional kids being sent to each riding association is getting a good reaction. My vision for Liberal merchandise is to have general party brand building and anti-CPC/NDP stuff online and they to have each riding association establish a relationship with local producers to make sure that all 308 ridings have access to less-expensive swagg.

– Please feel free to comment on this post. Some questions to get the ball rolling: What kind of Liberal t-shirt would you like to see? What kind of “outside of the box” merchandise would you like to see?


At the 2012 liberal biennial convention I met a woman in one of the “Resilience of the Liberal Ideal sessions who was selling “I am a Liberal. Ask me why” buttons. I purchased on and it is proudly fastened to my messenger bag. Since the convention that button has inspired 4 separate conversations. I talked to a woman on the train to Toronto, a man on the subway, and a group of high school students at the Whitby Public Library. Each of these conversations was different but that all began with a person looking at the button and then cautiously asking me, “So, why are you a Liberal?” Since I bring my bag with me almost everywhere I go, I look forward to more of these conversations. The buttons/t-shirts/thunder sticks/tote bags at the convention were really great but the Liberal Party really needs to make those items avaliable online.

Liberals And Merchandise (I want an Ignatieff Scarf.)

If you look at the Conservative Party website you will find that they have an online store with a whole bunch of different kinds of Conservative Party merchandise. I remember when volunteering on the 2004 election seeing a Conservative volunteer with a Stephen Harper t-shirt on. Branding is something very very important in politics. I really believe that we Liberals need to start selling items with the party logo on it.

– There is a “silent plurality” of Liberals. I know many people who are Liberals but keep it secret. If people started wearing Liberal apparel it creates an environment where people are proud (as they should be) of the party to which they belong.
– It makes our volunteers look professional and more noticable.
– The Ignatieff scarf is amazing. It is classy, sharp and a very good symbol that people can just carry around.
– Merchandise can help get young people excited. Just look at the Barack Obama campaign, they very effectively used merchandise.
– It generates some revenue for the party.
– Party of rebuilding the party is ensuring that people are familiar with the party name and the Leader. Mr. Ignatieff is doing a great job speaking all over the country but wouldn’t it be cool to have an “Iggynation” t-shirt or one with the Andy Warhol style picture of him on it?
– If possible I would love a Red “Ignatieff” cardigan.

Unfortunately, I am not sure how to accomplish this. I know that some of my friends who vote Liberal but aren’t party members would by Liberal shirts/scarves. How do you think we, as bloggers and party members, could possibly start a Liberal-merchandise website?

Future Prime Minister Works On Branding

– I love how sincere Michael Ignatieff is about how much he loves his wife.
Stephen Harper seems so wooden when he is with/talking about Laureen. My mom won a contest where the prize was dinner at the Prime Minister’s residence and she said that Laureen Harper was quite nice.

– I hope the Conservatives try to paint Mr. Ignatieff as “an elitist academic, out of touch with the country he left.” Not only is Mr. Ignatieff more down-to-earth than our current Prime Minister but also his political shrewdness is quite excellent. Michael Ignatieff is endearing, compassionate and very competent. The more Canadians know Mr. Ignatieff the better he does in the polls, the reverse is the same of Mr. Harper.
– I’m glad the turnout in Oakville was so high. Oakville was lost not because the Conservatives gained votes but because the Greens/NDP got some of the Liberal vote. Like my riding of Whitby-Oshawa there are many ridings in Ontario that can be won. I am very pleased that, under his leadership, the Liberals have gained in Ontario. I have heard Mr. Ignatieff speak on recruiting better candidates. In Ontario last election under Mr. Dion the lamest candidate possible was run in Whitby-Oshawa and a couple other Ontario ridings I was following, hopefully the Liberals will be at full strength under Mr. Ignatieff.
– Ignatieff’s understated rhetoric is really impressive. “Getting there is going to require unity,” “The prime minister of Canada has only one job, one job and that is to unite the people of this country… This is the core function of a prime minister: to unite and not divide.” He is so calm that his indignant-anger is very effective.
– The litany of issues in this article is quite excellent:
o Employment insurance reform.
o Early child-care programs.
o Nation affordable housing strategy.
o Improved access to post-secondary education.
o More federal money for basic science and research.
o Basic literacy and language training.
o Prison reform.
That list is more thorough than any of the policy the conservatives have produced over the past three years.
– The themes that Mr Ignatieff has been putting forth in his speeches:
o Liberals digging Canada out after the Conservatives put us in the ditch.
o Compassion.
o Acting on the economy.
o “We will protect Canadians in opposition and rescue them in government.”
o Responsibility and Accountability.
This show’s Ignatieffs true genius. He is not trying to rush rebuilding the party. Mr. Ignatieff is really sincere about renewal and rebuilding the party. Each speech, each conversation, and finally the convention have been hard work and I am glad that Michael Ignatieff has been leader as he is pragmatic in his leadership.

Also Mr. Ignatieff is ridiculously handsome.
From: The Toronto Star
Ignatieff shaping his brand: Meet the passionate Canadian

It’s 7 a.m. Wednesday and hundreds of cars exit the clogged QEW to head into a chamber of commerce breakfast featuring Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

More than 750 men and women in business suits have paid up to $35 for buffet bacon and eggs, and to listen to the man Conservatives portray as an elitist academic, out of touch with the country he left for 30 years.

There is a caffeine-fuelled buzz in the air – and there’s no election on.

Ignatieff slips into the ballroom, with his wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar. She arrived back in Canada the night before from Hungary. The tour team urged her to join the last day of a four-day swing through southwestern Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe.

Ignatieff is fighting a chest infection, on “heavy-duty antibiotics,” and is clearly tired.

But his wife has perked him up. So has the better-than-expected turnout of business leaders from the Oakville-Burlington area. Zsohar whispers in Ignatieff’s ear the best line of his speech.

“This is what recovery looks like.”

Ignatieff uses it to outline his ideas and his faith in the people in the room to lead the way to economic recovery. They eat it up.

He may as well have been talking about political recovery.

In Oakville, the bursts of applause don’t come on the policy lines. Rather, it is Ignatieff’s emotional pitch for hope and unity that appears to strike a chord. People seem hungry to hear the words.

“Getting there is going to require unity,” says Ignatieff before launching a sharp critique of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, without ever uttering his name. “The prime minister of Canada has only one job, one job, and that is to unite the people of this country. … This is the core function of a prime minister: to unite and not divide.”

They clap, and clap again. Are they all Liberals? Or are they just sick of the current political discourse? Impossible to know.

However, three consecutive national polls show public opinion is warming to the Liberals under Ignatieff, especially in Ontario.

A convention at the end of the month in Vancouver will seal his leadership and some basic platform commitments. This week, Ignatieff signalled some key planks.

He says a Liberal economic renewal strategy would include employment insurance reform; a national early learning and child-care program that would retain the Conservatives’ taxable $100-a-month benefit for preschoolers; a national affordable housing strategy; improved access to post-secondary education; more federal money for basic science and research; basic literacy, numeracy and language training; and pension reform.

These ideas are tailored to appeal to what he called “the industrial heartland” of Ontario where traditional manufacturing has been hard hit but where the “knowledge economy” represents hope for the future. They are policies that will be shaped to reach a national audience. But the road to any Liberal return to power lies in regaining seats lost in Ontario, as well as Quebec.

Ignatieff says the party is “urgently” crafting the strategies and estimating costs.

“That sounds a lot like a pre-election speech,” Vin Tsui, an Oakville lawyer, says afterward. He doubts there’s much appetite for an election but says he was pleasantly surprised Ignatieff appeared to have a plan – albeit one short on details.

“Given where the economy’s going now, what he’s saying is interesting to us, and sort of gives us hope that there is a solution and some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Part of the Liberal leader’s tour is to solicit advice. Jeff Kehoe, Ignatieff’s Ontario campaign chair who’s also in charge of candidate recruitment, is along, busily taking notes and policy suggestions from the private meetings. Part of it is also to work the bugs out.

In Cambridge, Ignatieff blundered into political no-man’s-land, answering a hypothetical question from an audience member about how he’d tackle a deficit if all other revenue-raising efforts failed after a recovery took hold. He suggested he wouldn’t rule out tax hikes, but only as a last resort.

Still, Ignatieff’s Oakville Chamber of Commerce talk, like those he gives to audiences in Hamilton, Chatham, Brantford, Cambridge, Waterloo, London and Niagara Falls, had another goal in mind.

It was to frame, define or “brand” Ignatieff as a passionate Canadian. He remains an unknown to many voters, even though he was the front-runner in the 2006 Liberal leadership race that saw Stéphane Dion come from behind to win.

Since the winter prorogation and coalition crisis that led to Dion’s downfall and Ignatieff’s rise, people have begun to pay attention.

So in speeches all week, Ignatieff repeatedly returns to a theme that is central to a book he launches next week as well – one that frames his ancestors as “nation-builders.”

It’s not just personal family history. It’s a rebuttal of Conservative suggestions he’s somehow not truly a Canadian because he spent most of his adult life outside Canada.

Ignatieff invokes his maternal great-grandfather, George Monro Grant, who with Sanford Fleming travelled from Halifax to Vancouver in 1872 to survey the transcontinental rail route.

Ignatieff calls for the kind of “grit and determination and unrelenting vision” they had to get through the current economic crisis.

He proclaims his passion for Quebec by invoking his Canadian parents, and his Russian grandparents who “are buried in the soil of Quebec” next to a French-Canadian farmer next to an Irish farmer, and advocates changing the question from “What does Quebec want?” to “What can we do together?”

In London, a university lecture hall is crammed with a few hundred people. About half are students. Final exams are on. The rest are area residents, professionals, seniors. Ignatieff, at home in a classroom, fields questions for an hour. Here, as elsewhere, when he hits the emotional notes, the room goes quiet. People listen intently.

Ignatieff claims he’s in no rush for an election, saying he’s got to work on the Liberal party’s “machinery of battle” – fundraising, and candidate recruitment, while he tries to hold the government to account.

But he makes clear where it’s all headed – sooner or later. “I will make Parliament work as long as I can and if we can’t make it work, then we have to go back to the people. That’s how the system works.”

Iggy Scarf!

Here is an e-mail I received from the Liberals:

Dear Joseph,

Michael and ZsuzsannaWhile we look forward to spring, Valentine’s Day is almost here to help us fend off winter’s chill. If you are still looking for the right gift for your Valentine, I have a cozy red suggestion:

Make a donation of $100 or more by midnight on Saturday, February 14th, and you will receive a limited-edition red fleece scarf, embroidered with the name of my favourite Liberal Valentine, to help keep you or a loved one warm until spring arrives.

Winter may be with us a while yet. Let’s weather it together.

Warm regards and hope to see you in Vancouver,

Zsuzsanna Zsohar

FINALLY, a way to get an Ignatieff scarf.

I want this man on my t-shirt

Now that President Obama is in office I can focus back on what really counts: Branding Michael Ignatieff. The Conservative Party website has a whole section on merchandise, the Liberal’s does not. I would love to have this picture all in red with a white background on a t-shirt:

I would also like a Liberal/Ignatieff:
– Scarf
– Hat
– Back-pack
– Button
– Sign
– Bumper sticker
– Pint Glass

We Liberals have the best ideas of any party in this country and a leader who is handsome. We need to get our act together merchandise wise.