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Election sign war gets serious in second week of campaign

Across the ridings of Vaughan and Thornhill, election signs are popping up like dandelions on lawns and road sides.

With the Oct. 10 provincial election only weeks away and a bylaw skirmish between Thornhill Progressive Conservative Peter Shurman and the City of Vaughan settled, candidates are racing to get their party colours up.

“People rally to the different colours, to different flags,” says Lorenzo Catuzza, campaign manager for Liberal incumbent Greg Sorbara in Vaughan. “There’s that group that responds to seeing a good visual impact.”

Richard Payne, a professional in the advertising industry, describes the function of winning new or undecided voters as “conquesting”, a crucial component of any advertising campaign. As important as conquesting to any campaign is building loyalty to the brand.

“It is mostly brand recognition,” Catuzza said of the principle behind election signage. “You see it, you remember it.”

An effective sign strategy, though intended more for the voting public’s benefit, has the added effect of reinforcing morale among campaign staff during a long election run-up, Catuzza said recently.

“Whatever campaign you’re a part of, if you go out and you see your signs up, you feel good,” he said, adding that the opposite can also work as a motivator. “If you go into a riding and it’s the other guy’s colour, I don’t think that’s a reason to be discouraged.”

Looks could be deceiving, Catuzza warned, despite the importance and visual impact of a good campaign sign strategy.

“I’ve talked to individuals who were doing this work long before I was,” he said. “Sometimes people are surprised on election day.

“It’s not a licence for complacency if you’ve painted the town in your colour.”

Vaughan Today
Friday, September 21, 2007
Page: 6
Byline: Philip Alves