Moulding the ‘Modi sarkar’ campaign

What was it about Narendra Modi’s advertising campaigns and media strategy this year that turned the tide overwhelmingly in his favour?  

e4m by Dipali Banka
Published: May 29, 2019 8:56 AM  | 6 min read

The BJP campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections centred around the ‘chowkidar’ campaign. It was one of the strongest campaigns for the party and was picked up by social media in a big way. “The Chowkidar campaign came against a big propaganda to malign the image of the ruling party and to counter it, the PMO took the allegation head-on and it boomeranged on the Opposition party,” says an industry source who worked closely with the production of BJP campaigns. The agencies executed and supported the campaign with relevant content. A film was made around the theme ‘Chowkidar’, which became a big hit. 

The teams working on the campaign decided to extend it and make it more real. So another 6-7 commercials were built around it, for example ‘What is real chowkidar?’ ‘Real chowkidar is real Modi’ and the philosophy of doing good for humanity and the country is also being a ‘chowkidar’. That philosophy was further translated into TV commercials. A lot of connect was built through that campaign. And it worked as a big advantage for the BJP. 

This was followed by a film putting together other issues that came up like the Balakot airstrike, terrorism and developmental issues like houses for poor and gas connections for all. This involved the party’s team along with agencies Ogilvy, Moving Pixels and McCann WorldGroup. The tagline ‘Phir ek baar Modi sarkar’ was created. The idea came from the PMO’s office and it was sharpened further. The format for Chowkidar campaign had already become a big hit. So the same format was continued with minor changes in this particular campaign. It gave the party the required recall and a fresh look. 

Campaign to go out and vote
The party was gradually getting feelers from the ground that people were favouring them, but they needed to give them a call to action. So another set of TVCs was created with the idea that if they praise a good work, they need to go and support that by voting for BJP. All the developmental work of the last five years was also stitched into these campaigns through Print ads. Campaigns with ideas like “Someone has brought electricity to your house, go and vote for them” with multiple versions for urban and rural were created. 

Manifesto five-seconders
The BJP’s poll manifesto was declared and it had a lot of points to talk about. It was the party’s idea to make small 5-seconders as reminders rather than making 20-30 second single ads. The idea was to increase frequency of 5-seconders to make it more effective. So 30 to 40 five-second commercials with one-liners were made, for example ‘Aatankvaad par kada prahar, phir ek baar modi Sarkar’. This turned out to be very effective for the party. 

Parallel social media campaigns
While mainline campaigns were going on, agencies created content around the theme ‘Aaega to Modi hi’ which became quite popular. A series of 10-12 10-seconders were made around the theme which went viral on social media with people creating their own versions, and it worked out in favour of the party. 

Alongside, songs like ‘Modiji ko chun rahein hai’, ‘kar chukka faisla desh’ were introduced and promoted. The theme of patriotism was picked up and commercials were made around that. Another song ‘Agar chowkidar na hota toh kya hota?’ was created and shared on social media. 

Bringing back the Chowkidar campaign
PM Modi had been talking about his work in his first tenure of five years. Also, there was already an undercurrent among people who had received benefit of houses and gas connections. So people were already aware about the schemes and developmental work of the government. Post that, other campaigns like ‘Phir ek baar Modi sarkar’ were kept soft on purpose because the ‘Chowkidar’ theme was so hyped up that to maintain it through seven phases of elections would not be sustainable. That is why other campaigns were tapered down and kept low key. In the end phase, with 90 seats left to go for vote, the Chowkidar campaign was brought back again as a reminder ‘Chowkidar ke chowkidar bano’ and ‘Chowkidar ki chinta hai, toh jaa ke vote karo’. 

Unique in terms of customisation, saved cost
The BJP’s campaign in the 2019 elections was unique in terms of customization of content as per geography and phase of elections. For example, the campaigns in Uttar Pradesh had more of Ganga into the visuals while those for Punjab and Haryana were quite hardcore in tone and campaigns for Delhi were a lot urban. This also helped the party save money on their ad spends as the campaigns were more regional rather than national. For example, the campaigns run in West Bengal were not exposed in the rest of the country. 

Another reason for less spends this time was that awareness of Brand Modi was already quite big and hence the party did not have to rebuild that. This also meant that the agencies did not have to overdo the concepts. They only had to give right meaning and direction, and remain positive on the party’s objectives and ideas, regardless of what the Opposition party said in its campaigns. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself kept building his brand through uniqueness in his speeches and interviews, which gave a lot of traction. 

Opposition failed despite volume 
According to an industry source, campaigns by the Congress Party and other Opposition parties were pretty strong in terms of volume this time around. “If the BJP had taken 50 spots on radio, Opposition parties had about 300-400 spots,” says an industry source. “However, Congress campaigns probably lacked the connect. The ‘Nyay’ campaign backfired for them as they did not have answers to the questions they were asking through it. They tried to change their way to emulate BJP campaigns - relating to the poor - but it was probably too late for them to build a connect and it looked fake and artificial,” he added. 

Teams Behind The BJP Campaign

Ogilvy, McCann WorldGroup, Creativeland Asia and Ahmedabad-based production house Moving Pixels were involved in creating content for communication for the BJP. Piyush Pandey of Ogilvy and Prasoon Joshi of McCann WorldGroup wrote a song each and gave ideas for content creation, while one song was created by 82.5 Communications. The production and creation of videos, commercials and other creatives for Print and OOH were made largely by Moving Pixels, along with other agencies. Animated commercials were done by Ogilvy. Creativeland Asia was involved creation of various digital assists and multiple campaigns. The teams were stationed in Delhi with production happening in multiple places like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Creativeland Asia had been involved in shaping the Modi government and BJP campaign over the last six months, working closely with the think-tank on their key focus areas  and creating multi-media micro campaigns as well as creating targeted digital and social assets and campaigns.

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