Over the years, Indian politics has witnessed some timeless advertising and communication master strokes. If I were to rate the best political campaigns in India, they would be the following.
UPA’s Aam Aadmi campaign in 2004. The campaign blew apart NDA’s India Shining campaign. While India Shining would otherwise have been a great campaign, it bombed because the NDA claimed that India was shining when Indian’s knew it wasn’t.
Arvind Kejriwal’s 2012 campaign. People can debate this one, but despite a chaotic start, Kejriwal’s party has caught the attention especially of the middle class by talking about core issues like power and corruption. His campaign is threatening to dislodge the existing structure of political campaigning.
Jagan Reddy’s Padayatra helped his party – YSR Congress – to sweep the 2012 by-election in Andhra Pradesh. The party won an unprecedented 15 of the 18 assembly seats.
The success of a political advertising campaign comes from acknowledging that they are fundamentally different in the sense that they almost always claim to be promoting a cause that supposedly promises to change the lives of millions in the country. To begin with, it is important to understand the distinction. Advertising works entirely with paid-for space whereas a political communication campaign, while encompassing advertising, tends to work in space that is free. This, as we know, is clearly more difficult to influence, but in turn has much higher levels of credibility. The basic tenets of effective advertising seem to be at full play: one visual, one pithy message and a compulsive call-to-action. But a well-thought out and calibrated communication campaign requires changing the convictions of those who write or broadcast in that space. ‘Free space’ also touches customers i.e. voters with a much higher level of influence.
Most parties now realise that their “brands” rest on much more than just the election campaign. They need to address the electorate with the right issues. The major issues that can swing the voters have to be alchemised into visible strategies. An effective communication campaign rests on this. Political parties can no more afford to sell only roti, kapda aur makaan to the electorate. We are living through a complex phase in history, where the common man deals with a plethora of issues daily.
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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2012
An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).
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