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Blame it on ‘India Shining’

14-May-2004
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Blame it on ‘India Shining’

Media planners close to the Congress camp attributed the success of the party to its “bang-on” campaign. Those tracking the BJP slide said that the party lacked compelling mass media campaigns. The apolitical industry pundits, on the other hand, claimed that campaigns only have a limited impact on elections. Interestingly, media insiders, in general, argued that the NDA government’s ‘India Shining’ campaign backfired. Political advertising cost the parties a total of around Rs 250 crore, as per estimates. Add to that at least another Rs 100 crore on ‘India Shining’ and ‘Bharat Uday’ campaigns, though there’s no clarity on these figures yet.

Election results depend on several factors, according to Starcom executive director Anita Nayyar. Advertising and media campaign is among those factors, she said.

When asked to elaborate on the strategy behind the Congress campaign, Ms Nayyar told FE: “It’s bang-on, talking to aam admi.” She added: “The Congress focussed on real issues.” These issues, according to her, included how common people were untouched by the BJP feel-good policies.

Another media insider, Mr Sushil Pandit, who’s director, The Hive, felt that “the Congress campaign was not terrific”, but admitted that “BJP could have done with a better media campaign”. The party should have showcased compelling reasons in its mass media campaigns as to why BJP should be brought back to power, he added. On hindsight, he also regretted that BJP started quite late on its campaign and political advertising. Congress got a lead of about one month in its mass-media campaign, according to Mr Pandit. “BJP shot itself in the foot as far as media campaign goes. The party failed to capitalise on the positives. There was just no cohesion in sending the right message across to the voters. The messages kept changing, leaving the BJP in a disarray,” he said.

Universal McCann president Chintamani Rao, who’s been away from the country for a few weeks, missed the final round of political ads/campaigns. But, Mr Rao said that media campaigns have only a limited reach. Newspaper campaigns are read only by the educated few. Similarly, political ads on cable TV reach only a certain number of homes in the country, he explained. (There are 45 million cable TV homes and a total of around 100 million TV homes in the country.) So, Mr Rao believes that media campaigns don’t have much of an impact on how election results could swing.

Commenting on NDA government’s ‘India Shining’ campaign, Ms Nayyar said it didn’t touch the common man and that its after-effect was not good. According to Mr Rao, this campaign targeted only the urban middle class. And Mr Pandit felt “India Shining was bit of an overkill and towards the end, it turned counter-productive.”

Summing up the impact of media campaigns on the election results, Mr Pandit said: “BJP was complacent.” It’s hard to tell whether the “clumsiness” of the party’s media campaign initiative translated into BJP’s fall.

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