Integrated marketing communications for a new ‘brand of politics’


Changing political communication

Continued from: ‘Regional political campaigns- does simplicity still work?’

4)      Communication: The key to  Kerala

‘Communism does not charm Kerala’s youth today’…
‘If Gulf money stops coming, half of Kerala will stop eating’…
‘Thank god for the Muslim League…’

–          Said Paul Zachariah, in an interview.

One of the leading literary figures in Kerala, Paul Zachariah, is known to hold passionate views on the political happenings of the state. Leveraging the credibility of such key opinion leaders in popular media was a unique plank employed by the Congress in Kerala to garner subtle endorsements in their favor. It indirectly ensured strong jolts to the red bastion in South India, taking them by surprise with a communication strategy that shook them from their base and led to their unexpected failure.

When veteran politician Achutyanand entered the polls this time, he was confident of spending another five years at the Chief Minister’s office. His hopes were destroyed with the Congress’ approach of indirect endorsements like Zachariah and also INC’s star campaigner and former union minister Shashi Tharoor. The focus on communication rather than visibility influenced the wafer- thin margin that the election witnessed, with the stakes even on both sides and the Janata going to the polls in two minds. The subtle push and the well-spoken words from the right sources created the difference between the retirees and the Amul babies.

The UDF manifesto for this round of elections was essentially a “wish list” of Kerala’s population, entailing all their demands and concerns. Positioning themselves as the voice of the people, the channeled this “wish list of the people” as part of their manifesto in every communication plank taken forward. This vision of their leadership in championing the people’s cause is what helped the fragmented union highlight the incumbent government’s inability to provide any real development and fortify the promise of ‘urgent attention from planners’.

The win of UDF is an ideal example to how communication could be crucial in winning or more importantly, in making others lose an election.

Today’s political campaigns have evolved into complex avenues beyond the promises of sadak-bijli-paani, focusing on creating positive perceptions for the party and building a rock solid image of the party leadership. The methods of outreach to the Janata have also evolved from the traditional media to the new-age mobile apps and online community forums. However, a distinctive feature of the shifting political trend in India is the focus from what the political parties have to offer (4P’s) to a more Janata centric what the people want (4 C’s).  This trend would only benefit the society as politicians and political parties focus more on the needs of the public; which would help them understand their priorities when they are voted to power.

Written by Rishi Vaidya for Image Management

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