February 11, 2009

Why Political Ad campaigns might not work in India

Let me tell you two examples why Obama's campaign was a huge success:

First one, In year 2005 Obama decided to contest for Senate. He faced tough competition from one Blair Hull in Democratic party Primary race. Blair Hull, a former gambler made a fortune in the stock market and fought the elections because he thought its cool to be a senator. Blair spend millions of dollars to run TV commercials and internet ads, his billboards appeared in every street corner of the state, he paid his volunteers, cheer leaders handsome day wages, where as Obama did not spend a penny till last three weeks and then used all there resources. Its a tough decision, because a month from the elections Obama is still unknown to most voters. In those last 3 weeks Obama launched "yes we can" campaign and other commercial displaying his experience, work he did in Chicago slums. Obama's team strategy to hold the campaign till end worked, before Obama's Tv ads were shown,just 15% blacks planned to vote him, a week after the number jumped to 50% and Obama won democratic party primary.

Second example, Obama faced Republican Jack Ryan in final Illinois senate elections. During the Campaign Ryan ran into trouble when a scandal about his divorce became public. Obama firmly refused to talk about the topic and said "I've tried to make it clear throughout the campaign that my focus is on what I can do to help the families of Illions and I'm not considering this something appropriate for me to comment on"

Obama's Campaign was a success because: His vision and ideology is revolutionary, people trusted him and in his ideas and it was "communicated' to voters successfully with various medias(TV, New media). Obama did not succeed by pumping millions of dollars into his campaign, but by involving people and creating hope in Americans

Obama’s success of using internet/social media as key campaign tool inspired every politician and our very own L.K. Advani is launching a 250 Cr Rs ad campaign and positioning himself as a ‘change agent’ and launching him as NDA Prime Ministerial candidate. UPA of course has luxury to spend tax payers money on ad campaigns

I am sure at ground level these Ad campaigns wont make much difference because no one believes in our leaders(NDA/UPA/Third, Fourth, Fifth Front), spending money wont change perceptions about them in few days. We know all of them are equally worthless but unfortunately we don't have much choice and keep electing the best among the worst and hope for a better future by changing our leaders every five years

Unless you creat trust in people on why they are different from the rest, how they will keep there promises and do some productive work to make India better, no one will believe you. Fake Slogans like Good Governance (at a time when you give tickets to criminals), Security/ Terrorism ( when you make police forces incompetent,kill innocent people in mob violence's), Aam Aadmi( when you squeeze land from innocent farmers to give it to a industrialist), Garibhi Hatao(by giving free TV's and not providing them any chances to come out of poverty by increasing skills)wont help in building credibility, it may help you win one or two elections


Anonymous said...

Hey what about the congress campaign last election.The pundit's believed that the punch line "Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath" and ther aggresive campaining played a vital role.I think i defer here,political ad campaigns work in India for the simple fact that in India every tom,dick and harry gets elected Actors,Sport stars even worst the goons get tickets.Its sad but Indians are politically illetrate.They dont understand the Why,What and who's of politics.Jago India Jago.


life teaches said...

We need to be sure as to what do you mean by a campaign? The advertising definition is that it is an concentrated effort made with clear objectivites targetted at an pre-defined audience.

An election campaign is slightly different. Even though you know what kind of people (sadly in India its on caste/religion), the sheer numbero f parties and therfore the fragmentation of votes means that you cannot be specifc and need to adopt a more generalistic aproach. Hence, you end up seeing campaigns which make no sense except that all seems populist and therefore there is no differention.

Siddharth Surana said...

Well, you know what I would say about your post. Almost all of it is true, but we need to keep an open mind.

Speaking from an advertising perspective, digital media represents the strategically most focused mode of reach. We are talking about 320 MN + 50 MN people here.

The audience might be very different, given it might be the parties and not a human face. We need to remember that there is a certain mix which would create very high recall amongst the people.

I'm not here to argue about what parties or politicians promise, that is a different thing altogether. But speaking from an advertising perspective, it will work. It will not be anything like the Obama campaign (it's a very different audience... etc).

Will discuss couple of concepts with you later tomorrow.. confidential ofcourse.