Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Politics &advertising ...what a deadly combo !!!

'Labour isn't working. Britain's better off with the Tories'

Saatchi and Saatchi's advertisement for Margaret Thatcher in 1978, not only made the conservatives in the UK get a spectacular win, and made the Saatchi’s famous, but also opened the doors for the entry of professional agencies into the world of British politics…. And later everywhere where politics was played…… Indian politicians though was always skeptical in the usage of professional agencies, may be because they thought that, there is nothing like mixing advertising and politics. On the one hand you have a gutter of lies and on the other you have... Wait just one minute! I don’t see any difference….!!!

Political advertising, in a sharp contrast to product advertising, have got to get outcome in a little period of time, and hence more than a few kinds of political advertising methods are employed: like for instance…. image, issue and negative advertising. Although there exists no rule in using political advertising, prior to the 1980s at least in the west, candidates usually used issue or image ads at the beginning of a campaign to establish their positive image and then used negative ads at the end of the campaign to attack the opponent. That is in the west …the more gentlemanly west as they claim and as even we, seem to believe..... A momentous inclination in today's political advertising is the increasing use of negative political advertising even from the beginning and regardless of propriety and decorum.

It was knotty for some one to compare George Bush to Hitler using ads and simply walk away with applause…… but in India it seems that we have a free run …late Rajiv Gandhi used the services of a professional agency way back in the 80’s but till recently the politicians had been averse to the idea of an outsider deciding their marketing strategies.. BJP employed a micro level market study in the state elections 2004 ,constituency after constituency and made custom made solutions to each ( well I mean ads were made with promises and shown and who cares whether they delivered or not… and in any case promises are like making babies…easy to make but hard to deliver )…. And they won in many states….

The first 30 – 35 years was free run for the congress party as it rode smooth on the tradition and the aura of having fought the British and got us the freedom. when it started to wane , came the war of the 70’s and it kept the brand value and the good will growing… it was a cult almost when the phenomenal mistake which they called emergency happened…India then made the negative vote for the fist time and the positive was kept aside for some time and this could be seen even in the next election when , the bickering and backbiting motley crowd , or Janata party as they aptly branded it,was swept away in the USP which the Congress went around advertising…. Stability…

1989 and 1991 India voted on the sympathy wave and that was the ESP and no one else could do anything…. But again with the advent of regional players, it was clear that the rules of the game is here to change…in fact the game itself was changing… Segments evolved clearly, like the mandal and the mandir segments, the young lads whom a Shrewd Rajiv, benovelently gave the power of franchise….

The Brand ambassador trap was not to be the prerogative of the congress party but the BJP too landed up there and had reaped its ups and downs… but one positive thing is that they harped on the positives , things that they have done and they would do , again if voted back to power in a powerful campaignwhere the 'Feel Good Factor’ was the main theme of communication, named the INDIA shining campaign or the Bharat uday as they called it… IT though didn’t work for different reasons ,and the Aam aadmi campaign by the Congress worked and could help them drag to power, but the agencies behind both, had reasons to smile… they had opened a wide new world for advertising agencies in India……. Increasingly they wanted to be branded, of course have or pretend to have good product, package it well, differentiate (or die..) brand, have strong ambassadors ( Indian or foreign)….communicate… ads… posters.. print ads…. Even telephone calls ..Remember.... Vajpayee talking to the unsuspecting you , on the day of the poll, asking you to vote for him….. Indian political advertising had changed.. for the better…….or is it not???

The recent UP elections have thrown open a can of worms …. Well the aftermath is well known and trio which ruled the state is running for cover…. As Mayavathi has made it clear by words and deeds , she doesn’t plan to be Mulayam (read it as soft..) on her enemies…. Bachan had waxed eloquently on TV ads issued by The Samajwadi party as to how UP is next only to heaven, if not above it.. UP main hain dam kyonki jurm yaham hai kam…said one slogan, implying that in UP the crime rate is less ( interesting… aint it…?? they don’t claim we are crime free..honest guys one should say ..).. in a reply, to those who said that violence rules India’s biggest state. Congress ,a poor player in the state, virtually non existent as the election has proven it, responded..... UP main tha dam,kaham pahunch gaye ham… trying to ignite the reminiscences of what they believe was the golden past when (obviously) they ruled UP and India, with no opposition at all… Spoofs went on air and the whole show turned comical....

In UP there was every type of advertising… Informative ( where they talked about their policies ( if they have some) and what they have done and what they plan to do… etc etc… they had mere entertainment too which even went to ridiculous extends….Amitabh with his wife and jayapradha the actor who also is with the SP bandwagon, walked up and down with slogans which ridiculed others ,praised Mulayam and so on… The SP had some carpet bombing too which went to the level of mudslinging when they made this series of ads which made a Muslim say for instance
“ Mulayam mera marham hai” and an old lady cry that "Mulayam mere budhape ki lathi hai……. The BSP , which at the end of the mess has emerged as the victor, said…" UP main hai dam, kyonki aparadh yaham hota hai hardham"…. Now that completes the level of political advertising in India…. It is bickering and wrangling as pigs would do in deep sludge…..

Comparison and negative advertising is good to an extent where it is kept within a boundary since "people are more apposite to vote 'against' than 'for' something"…. But too much of comparative advertising ( the negative stuff is nothing but comparison ) will have something called as the boomerang effect… it is very obvious here…that when messages negatively desecrated people's linguistic and cultural expectations, it backfired, with receivers changing to the position opposite to the one advocated by the communicator…Gina Garramone defined a boomerang effect as one which "may create more negative feelings toward the sponsor, rather than toward the target”…. SP lead the mud throwing game spending all the money and tired and sick, the mass showed them the way out..

Simple !!!

Foot note :-

A Eunuch candidate , Mr.. errr...Ms... huh... whatever Saroj Kinner also came up with ads... well (S)he couldnt be left behind anyways... and the ads said... "Kalyug mein hoga kinner raaj; Ram de gaye ashirwad".... Lord Ram has blessed, modern times eunuchs are going to rule ........

Well I thought they already are doing it.........


Anonymous said...

hahahahah loved the post especially the ending.... hilarious !!!!

Jebin George said...

That was a good one Sabu sir... The footnote is cool...


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