Radio, social media & trains: EC goes all out with campaigns urging people to vote
Brands too are doing their bit, encouraging citizens to cast their votes through innovative campaigns and creatives
Published - 18-April-2019
The second phase of Lok Sabha elections begins today and people in 13 states and union territories will be voting throughout the day. In 2014 general elections, the average voter turnout was only 66.4 per cent. Uttar Pradesh with 80 seats and Bihar with 40 seats had a voter turnout of approximately 57 per cent. This means that nearly one-third of eligible voters did not cast their vote. And so, the Election Commission of India (ECI) is leaving no stone unturned to encourage people to come out of homes and cast their votes.
ECI has launched many initiatives to ensure maximum participation of all eligible voters. The commission has launched voter awareness campaigns in many folds. In this drive, EC has collaborated with Indian Railways so that long-distance trains carry voter awareness and motivational messages. The trains display important contact numbers for the citizens, including the voter helpline number and the national voters’ services portal information, along with an appeal to vote. The widespread network of railway has ensured that the communication has a wide reach in urban as well as rural segments. For the message, trains on the longest routes of north-south and east-west have been selected, covering 19 states in total.
Further, in a first-of-its-kind initiative, the EC has reached out to over 150 community radio stations across the country to help educate and inform the voters. A workshop was also organised for training and capacity building of community radios for voter education and awareness. The workshop was inaugurated by Chandra Bhushan Kumar, Deputy Election Commissioner & DG, IIIDEM, in March. According to Kumar, community radios play a pivotal role in increasing voter enrolment and participation in the festival of democracy. He said the tagline ‘No voter to be left behind’ is to ensure that each and every eligible voter irrespective of his or her economic status, class, caste or profession understands the importance of his or her vote.
The commission has also joined micro-blogging site Twitter to encourage people to go out and vote. The platform has launched a special election emoji aimed at encourage participation in election-related discussions. It has also launched systematic voter education and electoral
participation programme (SVEEP) on the platform.
While Election Commission is doing its part to encourage people to vote, we spoke to industry experts to understand the impact that these campaigns have on people, and asked them about other ideas that the commission can use to increase voters’ participation.
According to Shrenik Gandhi, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, White Rivers Media, the extent of these campaigns will differ based on the intent behind them and the limitations of the medium being used.
“Initiatives like electoral literacy campaigns in school will help inculcate the habit of voting, but the impact will only reflect in future elections. When it comes to digital platforms, so far, the EC has restricted itself to more actionable campaigns such as ‘voter registration reminder’ with Facebook and a 204 tie-up with Google to manage online voter registration and facilitation services. Each of these initiatives has helped EC, but there is definitely further scope to experiment,” opined Gandhi.
He also believes that promotion through radios can initiate conversations around voter responsibility and bring a realization about importance of casting vote.
This time the Lok Sabha elections is unique in its own way because 8.4 crore new voters will cast vote for the first time.
Gandhi feels that ad campaigns play an effective role in bringing voters to the polling booth. “EC’s campaigns like ‘Ab watan dabayega button’ on radio that majorly focuses on first time voters have the potential to motivate and influence this segment (first-time voters) since the campaigns resolve their queries. By bringing about a realisation in them about the value of their vote through conversation, the EC will not only capture them for 2019 elections but also prep them for future elections,” he remarks.
He further says that campaigns by digital platforms like Snapchat and Google, though not in partnership with EC, are also adding up to EC’s efforts. “By creating filters, lenses, stickers, bitmojis around voting season, Snapchat is creatively reaching out the first-time voters who are impressionable and jump onto trends easily,” he added.
Kuldeep Chaudhary, CEO, ADOHM, too agrees that ad campaigns play a pertinent role. “They highlight the importance of voting even for people who treat voting day as holiday. It creates awareness among people that voting is a responsibility & their most important duty for the nation.”
Brand Expert N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research is also of the opinion that if done properly, advertising can have a strong mnemonic and remind people to exercise their mandates.
So, among the three communication mediums of TV, print and digital, which will yield the maximum results in terms of encouraging people to vote?
Chandramouli explains, “Since the voting age is 18+, approximately 60 per cent of the voters use different media and mediums to consume information. If they segregate their campaigns as per age groups, a unique digital campaign targeted at voters in the age group of 18-26 would be very effective. Number of print readers are reducing and the 40-60 age group could be targeted through print. TV could be the added push for the success of the campaign.”
Gandhi too feels that digital, specifically social, will play a significant and influential role because the younger generation is a heavy user of social media, and the elections would also see participation of a significant percentage of first-time voters.
Chaudhary added that campaigns have to be omni-channel because while hoardings and newspaper are for mass advertising, digital is precise advertising.
“For example, people aged between 18 and 22 could be
first-time voters. There should be special campaigns for these youngsters to make sure that they come out and vote,” he explained.
While EC is doing all that it can do make sure people vote, elections have caught the attention of twitterati and a meme fest has taking place on social media platforms.
Meanwhile, brands too are doing their bit urging people to cast their votes. #indianelections #inidanelections2019 are trending on social media platforms. Today’s Google doodle too is dedicated to voting. Media houses to ice cream outlets, brands have taken their creatives to social media. And some eateries are giving special offers to the voters.
The channel has been using the hashtag #GrownUpsGoVote.
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