Lessons from Canadian politics on sizzle vs. steak.

By Luke Sklar and Amber Hudson

Let’s do that little word association game.  Here we go…Canadian Politics…GO!  Sorry, did I just catch you yawning?


Unlike the UK (sex scandals!), the US (sex scandals!  war mongering!  celebrity hobnobbing!), and Russia (poison tea!), Canadian politics is a tad dull.  Just look at Stephen Harper, dull as a moss-green sweater vest (although one does have to give him plenty of credit for being responsible, steady and prudent – he’s done Canada a lot of good).  But if you look on the horizon there is a bit of sizzle over yonder.   Justin Trudeau was recently named the leader of the Liberal Party. He’s young, he’s fresh, he’s dare I say cute – the complete opposite of Canadian politics.  Could he be the leader that bridges the gap between the young and old:  leveraging his youthful energy to be relevant to Millennial voters, and the recognition of the Trudeau brand to remind Boomers of the idyllic times of his father?

Or is he just sizzle?  He really has no experience and so far very little (a.k.a. nothing) in terms of any point of view.  And sizzle scares many; have you seen the attack ads by the conservatives?  Makes you just want to vote for Trudeau just to teach the Tories a lesson about the Golden Rule.  But maybe sizzle is what we need.  I’m not talking the fried chicken-sizzle of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.  I’m talking honest, energizing, exciting, inspiring sizzle.

So, what do you think?  Will Canadians vote for the sizzle of the Trudeau name over the reliable steak of Stephen Harper?  We hope steak trumps sizzle.  So we’d like to predict Stephen Harper will win (and you know how good we are at predicting).  But what does all this mean for your brand?  Ideally your brand has both, a lot of steak with a bit of sizzle.  But if your brand can have only one, we say go for the steak because it can stand the test of time.   Sizzle fizzles.