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Can good advertising determine the outcome of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections?

Can good advertising determine the outcome of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections?

Author | Twishy | Wednesday, Sep 25,2013 8:21 AM

Can good advertising determine the outcome of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections?

Who will be crowned with success in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls – the towering personality of NaMo or the undeterred legacy of Congress?

With the current economic and political turmoil in the country, the notion of ‘India Shining’ is fading away and the ‘Aam Aadmi’ has completely lost faith in the ruling party. So can good advertising revive the lost fortunes of the party? As it is said that prosperity should be the first theme of a political campaign; so should Congress and BJP adopt prosperity as a central route?

The hardest thing about Congress will be to show progress by crafting a simple central message. With soaring inflation and falling Rupee, it cannot be committed to the ‘Aam Aadmi’ route and the ‘Jai Ho’ mantra because there is nothing left to cheer for the party.

It may be recalled that in 2004, Grey Worldwide created the ‘India Shining’ campaign for BJP and Leo Burnett crafted the ‘Aam Aadmi Ko Kya Mila’ campaign for Congress.  While in 2009, Congress appointed three agencies — JWT, Percept/H and Crayons — and launched two campaigns ‘Aami Aadmi Ke Badthe Kadam’ and ‘Jai Ho’. BJP, on the other hand, launched the ‘Bhay Ho’ campaign.

In this appalling state of the country, what should be the ideal brief to design a successful campaign? How difficult is it to work for a political party? Should BJP ride on the popularity of Narendra Modi?

Can the element of truth be a game-changer?
Ajay Gahlaut, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather shared that it is important to identify one single ideology that the political party wishes to convey and all forms of communication should be based on that.  The message should be believable, relevant, strong and compelling, which resonates with the voters. Looking at the current situation of Congress, Gahlaut believes that the party will have to have certain honesty in the message this time. “The consumers are well-informed, so the parties cannot put out inaccurate messages. They should highlight the party in the best light with an element of truth.”

Experts believe that getting an ideal brief is a rare case in case of any client and political parties are not an exception. According to Ranjan Bargotra, President, Crayons Advertising, the ideal brief should include identifying the real problem because most of the parties lose touch with the reality and define the segments that a party wants to address because it has to reach out to every segment, be it the educated, the uneducated, middle class, upper class, etc. He explained that to make a campaign that addresses different mindsets makes the job very complex.

“While crafting a campaign for a political party, an agency has to keep in mind that it’s not always about oneself; you have to take into account how the opposition has fared, where are the shortcomings and then capitalise on it. It is important to talk about what you have done and also be prepared to handle what the opposition has to say,” Bargotra said.

Admen believe that the campaign should be based on an idea that will cut across masses, religions, age and groups.

Santosh Padhi, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Taproot India said, “A real fact-full promising idea that will or has the power to shift a mindset should work. It's better to talk about your strength than the weakness of the competition, as our larger audiences have matured.”

“As this is one of the bigger audiences that you will be catering to, considering the size of our country and the cultural differences, it’s better to do localist campaigns as well consider the behaviour of that region to make a bigger impact – as one would do with any other national launch,” he added.

NaMo or Rahul: Who’s the next face?
Should political campaigns be person-centric? If Narendra Modi’s aura is capitalised by BJP, then should Rahul Gandhi’s youth quotient be the Congress party’s mantra?  It is widely believed that every party knows what sells and if they think a person sells, they should definitely utilise it.

Padhi stated, “If you have a leader who has the credential to make a big impact on a billion plus people, then why not? Anything or anybody who is a USP can be put forth and the party can ride on it. Obama was a classic example.”

According to Bargotra, all political parties are led by personalities. After all, it’s a people’s business and it is about the connect with masses, and leaders have that connect. He added, “People align themselves to their leader’s ideologies. Look at Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Closer home, look at Sheila Dikshit…she is a visible face of progress and BJP lost because they did not have a good leader. So leaders should definitely be encashed.”

Smooth or a bumpy ride
Some believe that crafting a political campaign is a difficult and a sensitive task, while others think that it is not an uphill job. Gahlaut shared that the challenges are similar to any other advertising campaign, but it is more than a product and the agency has to weave the communication around one honest and focussed message. “Many people don’t want to work for a political party’s campaign because they don’t believe in the ideology of the party. Then it is becomes a more sensitive task,” he added.

According to Padhi, it’s like working on any other brand and if the client knows his strength and the weakness of the competition, then it’s a smooth ride. It sounds too simple, but simplicity is the most difficult aspect of life.

Experts believe that getting a clear brief is the most difficult task.  Bargotra added that typically there are a lot of people involved, so decision-making is not easy. Committees do not generally arrive at a consensus.

Bargotra said, “Last year, Congress said no to stock images, stating that only real-life images could be used. Hence, we went ahead and shot real-life people from all across the country. Generally, people are not ready to be seen in a political party’s campaign; hence, we had to take their approval on paper. It’s quite a challenge to get real people. We also have an ocean of information, so it became a challenge to filter things, tie them together and communicate to people.”

“Working with Congress was a wonderful experience. It was very well organised and smooth, with clear directions. We never spent a night in office, which is rare,” he added.

Advertising plays a pivotal role in determining the success of a political party – what better example than NaMo’s rise.

Though it is not a cake walk to design a political campaign, a well-focused initiative with an honest and relevant message can work wonders.

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