So, it appears the CPC communications people have taken a stock photo, in this particular case of an oil worker in the southern US, and photo-shopped our Prime Minister's face onto it. Additionally, the colour saturation has been increased, making the whole image more garish and disconcerting and, at the same time, darkening Trudeau's complexion.
This is a manipulated photo.
What is the CPC doing here?
The ad image appears more sinister than the original photos. The colour adjustments are similar to those used in the motion picture industry to enhance the audience's feelings of dread at scary moments in the film. Hyper-saturation gives everything a surreal and dissonant feeling.
This ad also uses a sans-serif font and all capital letters. It is "SHOUTING" at the viewer. The changing font sizes and colours add to the sense of urgency, panic, distress that is meant to be conveyed.
There is a science to producing images and formatting messages to evoke different emotional responses in the viewer. A neutral message can evoke feelings of anxiety if the font, colours, and presentation is done a certain way. Add the right background image and you can raise a person's sense of uncertainty or tension with a completely unalarming message. Because feelings about specific colours are fairly subjective, it is less the colours chosen and more the way they clash with each other that creates the desired effect. Coupled, of course, with the changing font size.
For example, look at this:
Now, look at this:
Here is an example of what I mean. The first image is unadjusted.
The second image has had the colour saturation enhanced.
In studies, researchers showed subjects various images. They asked the research subjects to self-report how they were feeling upon seeing each image, and they also used physical metrics like skin conductance (skin momentarily becomes a better conductor of electricity when an internal or external stimuli is presented that causes excitement or arousal), and heart rate. So, these researchers determined that high saturation is one of several visual inputs that results in arousal in subjects. Please note: scientists use the term "arousal" to describe a state of heightened emotional and physical engagement. It is not sexual arousal.
The ad image is heavily saturated. So they have used font style, sizes, and colour, as well as image colour saturation to elicit involuntary responses in the viewer.
Another thing they have done is to darken the image. Darkness in an image adds a sense of mystery or foreboding. Which, again, subtly affects the emotional state of the viewer.
Clearly, the photo-shop techs at CPC have used multiple tools; colour variation, font size variation, all capital letters, colour saturation in the image, and darkening the image, to prime the viewer to be in an enhanced state of "arousal", or tension. And that has happened before your brain has even processed what the words mean. So when you read them, your brain is already anxious and fretting. This magnifies the impact of the message.
Let's look at what else they have done in this ad.
They have photo shopped the PM's face onto someone else's body, in a place the PM has probably never been, doing a thing the PM has probably never done. The blatant dishonesty of doing this should be apparent to all. Laws are lagging behind our digital reality. There needs to be some controls that protect the integrity and legitimacy of one's own image. It is part of your identity. Think of the damage that could be done to a person if, for instance, someone photo-shopped someone's face into CCTV footage that shows a crime being committed. Copyright law, personality rights, rights to control the use of your own image are confusing and contradictory. Until this can be rectified, we are going to see more and more doctored images designed to vilify people.
But, let's look at Justin Trudeau in this ad. He appears to be very dark. Brown-skinned, some might assume, if they did not know what he really looks like. Of course there is nothing wrong with being brown-skinned, but some people hold prejudices against brown-skinned people. This may be an attempt to create a link between the Prime Minister and brown people in general, or more specifically, between the PM and Middle Eastern or South American refugees (depending on whichever is more triggering to the individual viewer).
That image creates an impression in the viewer's mind. Those who do not judge people based on skin colour might look at it and think, "What's up with that? He looks odd, way darker than usual." Those who do judge people based on skin colour may look at this and feel a negative towards the PM that has nothing to do with reality.
Finally, the words themselves. Now that the ad has everyone agitated and anxious and maybe feeling negative, the words are grossly inaccurate. Of course, the CPC can't say that the Liberal plan is to phase out oil and gas gradually, over time, in a responsible manner and retrain workers to do different jobs in a sustainable energy economy. Because that makes a lot of sense and would likely make people feel positively inclined towards the Liberals. Instead the CPC tells people Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are "going to take away your livelihood. They're going to put you out of work and let you and your family starve". Which is simply false.
Now, in every social media conversation I have seen so far about this ad, it begins with someone saying, "Why did the CPC make Trudeau into a brown person?" A very legitimate question. And every time the discussion quickly devolves into people arguing about the best policy regarding fossil fuels.
This is what the CPC wants. They want the Liberal supporters and Green supporters and NDP supporters to be at each other's throats about anything and everything. Because if we work together, we outnumber them.
The future of fossil fuels in Canada is an important subject. But the fact that the Opposition uses devious psychological tricks to try to control how Canadians think, is at least as important a subject, particularly with an election coming up.
Be media literate. Think about what you are seeing when you see an ad. Don't just agree and share it along. Question what is in front of your own eyes. We can no longer trust visual evidence at face value. We need to stand up to manipulative campaign propaganda. We need to not get distracted and turn to fighting amongst ourselves.