As a political outsider, Val Litwin — the former President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce — has officially entered the BC Liberal Party leadership race, with surprisingly the best, most resonant campaign launch video and website.
Litwin’s launch video, particularly, is a vivid contrast of energy to the other declared candidates: Ellis Ross, Gavin Dew, Kevin Falcon, and Michael Lee. It’s so well executed that in one snappy minute, Litwin exposes how bland the other leadership candidates have been so far.
Look at their launch videos: Dew, Falcon, and Lee use melodramatic music — backed by gentle piano tones — that dribbles over slow-motion visuals. Each of them layer highfalutin (yet unenthusiastically delivered) narration over images of themselves working super seriously, intently engaging with their families and communities, and meditatively looking off into the distance.
It’s like there’s a BC Liberal playbook for political advertisements and all three of those camps are just personalizing the same boring boilerplate.
In contrast, Litwin’s launch video wields movement, percussion-heavy music, animated text, and flashy colours. Litwin speaks directly to you, the viewer, the entire time, not in some lame cinematic narration over a mishmash of images and staged interactions. At the very least, you actually end up watching the whole thing.
Litwin’s approach is almost antithetical to that of Dew, Falcon, and Lee, which is exactly what makes it so good.
Notably, Litwin’s launch video is fully captioned, unlike the videos of his competitors. It’s a small detail, but it represents an acute awareness about inclusivity and accessibility.
Interestingly, he emphasizes that “2021 is not 2011” for a leadership race that actually concludes in 2022.
Singling out 2011 may be a roundabout way of saying that a lot has changed in British Columbia over a decade, but it also comes off as a subliminal jab at Kevin Falcon, who unsuccessfully ran for the BC Liberal leadership that year. In fact, of all the declared candidates so far, Falcon was the only BC Liberal politician in 2011, although Dew did work on Falcon’s 2011 leadership campaign.
In an email exchange, Litwin insists that this is not the case. “It’s an acknowledgment that the way we used to tackle problems might not serve us moving forward.”
While his video may lack substantive policy ideas, it accomplishes what it needs to do for now: It catches your attention.
As a lesser-known candidate to much of the BC Liberal membership, Litwin understands how he needs to first engage an audience.
“We will bring policy that supports all peoples, communities, and the environment, but we have to connect with people emotionally first to engage them. And this race is all about engagement.”
Obviously, this strategy plays to Litwin’s strengths. He’s good-looking and well-spoken. He seems amicable and he clearly exudes a natural charisma. In many ways, Litwin looks like the seasoned politician on top of the culture, unlike Lee or Falcon who can be stilted and frankly uncool in their political-speak.
It should worry his competitors that Litwin may be the most brand-conscious candidate in the leadership race with an appeal that has a very high ceiling, particularly to younger voters: “Millennials and Gen Z are the most brand-savvy people in the history of humanity – they can smell inauthenticity a mile away.”
While none of this speaks to policy substance, it represents many qualities that make for successful politicians and leaders alike: keen attention to detail, emotional instinct, charisma, and likeability.
Most of all, however, even in a long BC Liberal leadership campaign, without much policy debate or even a conclusive list of candidates, Val Litwin offers an enviable style of energy, which he knows may go a long way.
“For me this race is not just about ideas – it’s also about energy.”
Mo Amir is the host of This is VANCOLOUR, a politics and culture podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and www.thisisvancolour.com