Political Marketing- Lessons and Relevance for Corporate

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 1919 , Published on 17 October 2014
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The BJP led government has recently completed 2 months in office and all the frenzy that was there in the first quarter of 2014 regarding elections is fading away. These elections have taught us a variety of things and one of the things that is relevant to a marketer is ‘how to build a brand of a person’. In these elections there was no escaping Modi and his brand overshadowed all other brands in the market even that of his own political party. This article is not about the marketing strategy of our prime minister during the elections, it’s about what we (‘The Future Managers’) can learn from it and what its relevance is in the corporate life.


Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net, Stuart Miles


What is Political Marketing?

In very basic terms it is the art of persuading the voters by building preferences and shaping perceptions. It is based on the models of business management. The basic premise in case of political marketing is that it sees political parties as businesses and voters as consumers. All of us must have studied about the 4 P’s of marketing but political marketing is about 4 C’s.

 


Cause – The beliefs and ideology of the party and its candidate. What the party stands for. It can be different for different sectors of the society. So for rural voters the party would focus on the cause of poverty eradication in its manifesto and for young voters it would focus on employment generation.


Constituency – Like there are local markets in a business, constituency is the local market in the business of politics. The mantra is ‘localization’ i.e. to provide specific and not general products according to different needs of different markets. So a party needs to understand the problems of each constituency rather than talking national. The success of Aam Aadmi Party in State assembly elections in Delhi is a live example of this localization strategy.


Comparative Advertising – Just like brand wars, elections is a war between few political parties. Comparative advertising is concerned with portraying your competitors in negative light and creating doubt and uncertainty in the minds of voters. According to the theory of ‘Loss Aversion’, losses always loom larger than gains in the minds of consumers. So the loss of reputation a candidate is having from comparative advertising is far greater than the gain of reputation he is having due to any promotions done by him.


Celebrity Endorsements – Political parties are roping in influential people from various fields like films, TV, sports etc. to gain the attention of voters. Also these parties have their social media cells to disseminate these celebrity endorsements to a wide audience. The star power is such an influence that we see an increasing number of celebrities been given a chance to contest every election.


The amount spent on the marketing initiatives of these political campaigns is in crores of rupees. In the campaign of Mr. Narendra Modi, not a single thing was left to chance. Each and every medium of communication was showing ‘Ache Din’ and ‘Abki Baar Modi Sarkar’. Social media played a decisive role in roping in the youth population in favour of Mr. Modi. Almost every day he was trending on Twitter for one reason or another. These mediums helped him in disseminating his ideology to each and every house of the country. This marketing of ideology is what the students and the future managers can learn from this campaign.


Marketing of Ideologies


Political marketing has the ability to market the ideologies of a person or a party. This concept can be extended to the corporate where marketing efforts are shifting from marketing of products and services to marketing of values and ideologies. Today companies are increasingly marketing their company values like sustainability, transparency, credibility etc.


Coca Cola, for example, supports the view point that everybody has a right to choose the life they want to lead and thus have supported the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community via their advertisements. Coca Cola’s XLVVIII super bowl advertisement supported the concept of a gay family by showing two fathers who took their two daughters for roller skating. The ad won accolades not only from the LGBT community but from the people of all walks of life.


Managers have to promote the ideology of a company both to the internal and external stakeholders. Internally mission, vision etc. help the employees, shareholders and supplier to get motivated, work towards a common goal and drive performance. On the other hand, external promotion of a company’s ideology and values is targeted towards government regulators and clients to gain some advantage or the other. Promotion to media and general public helps to create a positive image about the company and thus helps to gain the trust and confidence of the consumers. TATA group and Infosys are examples of value driven companies and they have promoted this fact (e.g. Infosys has a tagline- Powered by Intellect, Driven by Values) to both their external and internal stakeholders. So the general perception about these companies is that these companies will not indulge in malpractices and will be there for customers/shareholders in the hour of need. This all will in the end come down to higher revenues and profits.


Today, businesses are increasingly having interactions with government regulators and political parties. The more visible a company’s ideology is, the more successfully the managers can argue their case over legislative changes and contracts. By learning about political marketing, managers can understand about the skills of positively affecting the political environment in their company’s favour which was earlier thought to be uncontrollable.


In this era where the focus is shifting from product marketing to marketing of values and ideologies to build a positive image of the company in the minds of consumers and where the businesses are increasingly having interactions with government agencies and clients, having a marketer with the domain knowledge of this field can be a real asset for the company.


This article has been authored by Rahul Tiwari from IMI Delhi


Bibliography

1) Examples of effective political marketing. (2008, Oct). Retrieved Jul 2014, from http://www.azcentral.com/: http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/election08/articles/2008/10/04/20081004influence1005side.html

2) Fleming, J. (2008, Oct). Get the Vote: Use Political Marketing Techniques to Power Your Campaigns. Retrieved Jul 2014, from http://www.marketingprofs.com/: http://www.marketingprofs.com/8/political-marketing-techniques-power-campaigns-fleming.asp

3) savigny, h. (2009). Political Marketing.

4) Shivakumar, S. (2013, Oct). Basics of political marketing to target young voters in 2014 elections. Retrieved Jul 2014, from http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-10-14/news/43032070_1_political-advertising-pm-candidate-marketing

5) Times, F. (2012, Nov). Political marketing has lessons for business schools. Retrieved Jul 2014, from www.ft.com: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/e58afb24-2755-11e2-abcb-00144feabdc0.html#axzz38hL7y5BA



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