Your heart has to go out to those who were supporting mixed member proportional (MMP)in the Ontario referendum. They had an option they believed would dramatically improve democracy in Ontario. It is very hard to see that defeated.
For the most part, they ran a good campaign - certainly the more sophisticated campaign. They had a better website, better literature, the only television ads, etc. On their television ads, however, I think they were an excellent introduction, setting the stage for people to consider a change. But they never drove home the specific value to the individual for this change. But I also think that this was only a minor point in the whole campaign.
The biggest mistake the 'yes' side made was getting off message. It seemed like any time someone prominent made a criticism about MMP the yes side was there to demand a retraction. First, that looked amateurish. Second, all that did was draw attention to weak points of MMP - and there are weak points. So when John Tory referred to the list candidates as "appointed" the yes side was quick to criticize and demand an apology. So first there was a quote from Tory near the end of an article about appointed candidates. Then thanks to the yes side the story was repeated the next day except in an article unto itself. And they repeated this process a few times. The truth is, no matter how much the yes side disagrees, it is possible for rational people to fairly describe the list candidates as appointed - that's why you had the likes of the Toronto Star, John Tory, etc. saying just that. Then the yes side went into the major lobby campaign to get all the parties to commit to a democratic process for the selection of their candidates. Once they achieved that they thought they had won that point. No, actually they only drew more attention to it. And besides, no one believes any process within the parties will truly and always be democratic.
I have run campaigns before, and been involved in dozens. The truth is that every campaign has its weaknesses and your opponents are going to capitalize on them. Your energy needs to be spent on their weaknesses and your strengths. There is even a strategy, which I have used, that you attack your opponents strengths. Whichever of these strategies you believe, one thing you do not do is focus on your weaknesses. And that is what the yes side ended up doing throughout most of the campaign.
(On Monday I will do an assessment of the Citizens Assembly)