Guest Column: Political advertising campaigns lack authenticity: Siddharth Khanna

Ad film maker & Branding Consultant Siddharth Khanna on what Congress, AAP and BJP should do for state assembly elections in Delhi

e4m by Siddharth Khanna
Updated: Jan 16, 2015 10:42 AM
Guest Column: Political advertising campaigns lack authenticity: Siddharth Khanna

With state assembly elections just around the corner in Delhi, all three main political parties in the territory have released their poll advertising campaigns. The parties have spent large sums of money on these campaigns, aiming  party to communicate with and reach out to the voters. In such situations, do these advertising campaigns really help? Do they really influence the voter?

These campaigns fail to address the core issues that concern the voters. A comparison of the campaigns of the three parties -- the BJP, AAP and Congress -- shows no content that substantially influences voter choices.

For example:
Congress talks of development, metro and secularism, where it should be communicating AAP's abdication of its responsibility to run the government after triumphing in the last election. The BJP has no obvious Chief Minister candidate of experience to head the Delhi Government. Moreover, Congress has failed to communicate effectively on its stand against corruption. Congress did a lot of major work in Delhi but they have somehow failed to fight out their credentials , the major issue that has wiped out the congress is it's disconnect with the voters, this disconnect is felt in their campaigns also, I instead of doing things that are morale boosting the party can be easily be seen at its outmost low and demoralized affairs, this is actually the time for the party to spring back in action with enthusiasm and attacking  its rivals with confidence.

What the congress party should do or should have done - the party must have punchlines/slogans that convey that corruption charges are not proved until they are proved in the court of law only then the voters can hold them responsible so the slogans and punchlines have to very clearly and effectively communicated that they are not corrupt as nothing has been proved so far.

The party cannot and should not disassociate  / disconnect itself with the former chief minister Sheila Dixit because she has been the face for the last 15 years and has done a lot for Delhi. By disconnecting with her they are on their own sending a negative message and therefore admitting that she has been wrong.

The congress has always thrived on emotions of the people they should highlight how we lost the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi because of baseless corruption allegations which were never proved and 10 years after his death the court had acquitted him as an honest person. Also I feel with the high command in the congress is a PR failure ,at this moment Sonia ji ,Rahul ji and Priyanka ji should be accessible to the general public and must meet as many people as possible.

The next thing the party should do is to get Priyanka Gandhi  in its campaigns  talking about almost zero power cuts in Delhi, Delhi metro , development of east Delhi , online facilities of the Delhi government, beautifying the capital and its monuments , organizing various cultural events , also getting Delhi the status of the greenest capital in the world, getting CNG and sorted out the issues of auto rickshaws, getting all the etc buses converted into CNG , making Delhi police online. In order to combat the crime issues they could have easily put a comparison of statistics of other states and Delhi, which would have shown that they have not been as bad with law and order as they have been projected because of one exception.

To sum it up they should do an ad campaign headed by Priyanka Gandhi  , communicate that corruption charges as  invalid , the success of Delhi  in last 15 years and their future plans for Delhi, they need to spend more in terms of their visibility outdoor, print, tv, radio and most importantly the Internet. Ground promotion and several small meetings in Delhi are very much needed. Also they must most importantly highlight " that the rates of petrol and diesel are low not because of the BJP but because of the falling price of crude oil in the international market. They should also highlight that ever since the BJP has come the economy has further gone down.... With rising prices and no income, the congress should ask the voter of the core local issues concerning them, that would work favorably for the congress.

AAP talks of "paanch saal Kejriwal" but struggles to effectively communicate his reasons for resigning from  the government. It also fails to communicate how it will reduce electricity and water bills by 50%. It should have highlighted the impression that the BJP is only a one man show and not democratic in its functioning.

What AAP should do-

In politics your roots and your origin is  most important, unfortunately Arvind kejriwal has forgotten that . His failure to bring along Anna Hazare,--- in this election it was very much needed for him to win Anna’ s support and have him too as a part of his campaigns. As  he is forgetting that so many voters voted for him only because he was associated with Anna’s movement. He also needs to mention clearly that in-spite of having majority why he resigned and what led to his resignation. This has to be communicated with the punch lines. AAP too should highlight that diesel and petrol prices have not come down because of the BJP but because of the crashing market of the crude oil internationally.

Secondly the water and electricity bills issue needs to be graphically put forward clearly mentioning as to how he will execute the same--- he must admit his mistakes being a novice in politics so that the people sympathize with him--  conveying the wrong people he chose in his party who later betrayed him . And now assuring of a great success.

To sum it up : AAP campaign should have photos of the Anna Hazare movement , with punchlines of their core objective. They should highlight the work their MLAs did in the last 7 months, how they utilized the money. Why resignation was important and that core issues are important to them and not power, water and electricity strategy to be made public in detail. Also it should ask the BJP of its CM face ? As then they would have an edge over Modi, also they must clarify that one Modi cannot look after all states including Delhi individually since he has more complicated work to handle, AAP has an edge over BJP as none of its candidates can match Kejriwal as a CM face.

BJP is sticking to its standard campaign, as in the 2014 general elections: "Chalo Modi Ke Saath". However, it is heavily dependent on PM Narendra Modi factor working for its success, as in other state elections recently.

But Delhi voters are far more aware than  their counterparts in other states.

Delhi's voters will ask for hardcore deliverables, and could perhaps be reminded of their own successful CMs of Delhi in the past, Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma, who  had done exemplary work during their tenures. The BJP has forgotten them and there is no mention of the great work done by Madan Lal Khurana or Sahib Singh Verma.

This further also reminds us the inner tussle and rivalry in the BJP , it clearly shows to the voter that the leaders are hungry for power, also giving the impression that they are corrupt, there is no single line PR strategy too in the BJP , with every district BJP person in Delhi is putting up hoardings with different slogans highlighting Modi and Amit shah, it is clear that everyone here is trying to impress the BJP president to become the chief minister , in their campaigns they have directly attacked Kejriwal and in their statements to the media they have mentioned that kejriwal is no match for them ? So then why have they attacked him directly?? It again shows that they fear AAP. Politics of Haryana is closely associated with Delhi , what the BJP did there by taking a few people in responsible positions with tainted images has put the BJP in the negative light.

What the BJP should do : There is no CM face which is important for Delhites, the CM face must be declared ,although they have got Kiran Bedi to join the BJP, but they have not declared her the CM Candidate, which is a mistake, why is BJP forgetting that it won the general elections only after they declared Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate, also they must highlight the work done by earlier CM s in Delhi , should put forward core issues including water and electricity and their detailed plan of action.

Their campaign must address the local and core issues that are in depth that connect with the voter, they must make their campaign area centric, constituency centric so that the voter can see beyond the Modi magic..... BJP must realize that they have to deliver now and that they cannot keep using the Modi mantra , how long will the Modi mantra last ? 

The author is an ad film maker and brand consultant. Expressed in this column are the author’s personal views.

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