The Prime Minister's gone and done it. Canada's going to have an election on June 28. Somehow, he and his fellow politicians will reach out to nearly 30 million Canadians spread across the second largest country in the world - and only spend about $40 million.
Sure, that doesn't count the costs of the actual election mechanics, or the costs to be tallied up by the media. Did you know a Canadian network has borrowed one of ABC's now-ubiquitous wired buses? (It actually broke down yesterday. On the first day of the election.) Even CPAC, the public access politics channel, has a bus.
Several outlets are trying out blogs, including the CBC (it reads like a college road trip journal). The Globe and Mail is promising to have reporter's blogs. (When? The campaign's into its second day)
In the interests of free and open democracy, I've prepared some helpful hints for those thrifty Canadian politicians looking to save a few dollars on the campaign trail:
Get all the staff on one of those "friends and family" phone plans
Public access programming - it's where you find the really committed voter
Take advantage of cross promotion - lawn signs can also advertise driveway resealing or lawn care companies
Save on focus groups and polling: hang around the Tim Horton's on Saturday morning (or the mall food court, for the youth demo)
Integrated marketing - deliver take-out menus with outreach material
Campaign plane? I hear WestJet/EasyJet/JetBlue hit ALL the vote-rich suburban areas
Media plane too expensive? Try hotel minibar pricing on the booze
Meals too costly? Give the candidate's son the "important job" of cleaning out the free breakfast bar when the team checks out of the Holiday Inn Express
Gas prices too high? Get the assistant driving the media van to distract the service station attendant after you fuel up the campaign bus - then make a break for it!
Update the campaign website and blog on the road by phishing WiFi hot spots. (A latte a day keeps your ISP bill away!)