The spectacular win of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi assembly elections is something that deserves to be analysed and, as one industry executive puts it, “used as a case study by corporate”.
The party, which used outdoor, radio and social media to reach out to voters, deserves to be credited for turning around the fiasco of AK49 and rekindling trust in the ‘muffler-man’, despite ridicule from rivals and the general euphoria that seems to have engulfed the nation and goes by the moniker of ‘Modi wave’.
Also, unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Arvind Kejriwal and his supporters chose to ignore the pricy options of TV and print to reach out to the maximum number of people in the most cost-effective way. Let’s take a look at some of the things that AAP’s campaign got right.
AAP started its campaign much before than anyone else in November last year. This allowed the party to do a number of things. First, it allowed AAP to plan its campaign, addressing concerns about the party’s stability and criticism levelled at it. It also made it possible to get an early idea on issues that the electorate wanted to be addressed, whether related to the party or city. By the time the BJP or the Congress, which started campaigning earnestly only in the last few weeks, entered the fray, AAP had managed to rekindle the faith that ‘janata’ had bestowed in it last year.
Where the Congress stuck to the done-to-death formula of reminding people of their past achievements and BJP, quite strangely, forgot the lessons of its own brilliant Lok Sabha campaign and indulged in mud-slinging and other shenanigans that the party had previously avoided, AAP kept its communications to the point.
The party acknowledged its shortcomings and came across as more mature and honest than its rivals. Kejriwal made personal exhortations to the electorate through radio ads, reminding them what AAP stood for and why they had voted for the party the last time around. When Kiran Bedi was declared the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, he extended his congratulations, earning even more respect.
Extensive use of radio and outdoor
Unlike the BJP, AAP mainly stuck to radio, outdoor and social media to spread its message. This, especially with radio, allowed the party to reach out to the entire spectrum of audience. Conservative estimates suggest that AAP might have spent around Rs 2-4 crore on radio advertising.
“AAP’s campaign was party-focused rather than voter-focused. The party used radio extensively as OOH proved expensive. Towards the latter stage of the campaign, AAP did a dipstick on radio which was projected as an advertorial. It had cub reporters going to different localities, asking people who they wanted to vote for. We saw parties changing creatives even during the course of the day to counter rival comments,” said Ashwin Padmanabhan, National Business Head at Big FM.
Atul Srivastava, COO of Laqshya Media, says around Rs 7-8 crore must have been spent on OOH advertising this time around. If we go with this estimate and consider only BJP and AAP, since Congress did not run a very large campaign this time around, it is a sizable number to invest. AAP did not shy away from allocating money in the mediums it felt could make a difference.
The social media battle
Though the BJP and Narendra Modi might have got all the limelight after the brilliant social media campaign during the national elections, it was Kejriwal and AAP who were the pioneers when it came to using the platform to connect with people. With the Delhi elections, the party once again went back to its original social media strategy of connecting with people.
Some enterprising AAP enthusiasts from IIT-Bombay also created a tool that allowed them to do a sentiment analysis of the internet, thus figuring out which topics people wanted to talk about or found negative. This further allowed them to create a more targeted and insightful campaign.