Arjun Singh Rathore
Is Political marketing playing an important role in the 2019 General Elections? And the answer is- More than ever! The year 2019 is a completely different animal in comparison to 2014. Political marketing has in fact exploded since 2014 in India, spreading its roots through to rural India. It is not just benefiting the marketing business but has also proved to be a great platform for persuading and changing the mindset of a wider population of voters. And the man of match of elections 2019 is Social Media playing the role of a super Political Marketing Manager.
Being in politics, a party activist has a distinct identity that could reap dividends in the form of prestige, status and accessibility. Political Parties look like business firms in a political market. The ongoing climate of competition has led to the emergence of sizable rent-seeking professional leaders.
The democracy is the most common political system all around the world and Political marketing is the process by which political candidates promote themselves and their platforms to voters through masterly-crafted communications aimed at gaining public support. Political marketing provides an excess of new opportunities to connect with potential voters and shape public opinion. Till nineties it was posters and pamphlets along with newspapers, radio and television only and the year 2k started with direct mail flyers and email campaigns. But 2014 saw the social media as the perfect political marketing manager where the voters vote for any unknown candidate. And in whatever category you put the social media it is an important factor playing the crucial role of helping the political marketing in a larger country like India.
Currently, the most efficient Political Marketing Manager is Mr. Mobile Phone. India has about 1.3 billion mobile phones, up from approximately 581 million in 2014, so at present we have more Political Marketing Managers in the shape of mobile phones than our population. With the entry of players like JIO, data has become extremely cheap for in less than Rs.10 we have 2 GB of data every day. As a result of this mobile revolution, mobile phones and cheap data have reached rural India as well. With a density of about 94/100 users of a phone, it is quite evident that almost everyone has a mobile phone available to them. Now we are clear that Political Marketing Manager via social media in the shape of Mr. Mobile Phone has penetrated all parts of India to leverage most of the political parties for their advantage.
The most important topic of Political Marketing via social media is ‘Fake News’. India off late has turned into a mobocracy where mobs end of destroying lives based on messages (most of the time fake), on social media. A lie repeated many times becomes the truth, a tried and tested technique used by politicians, investigators and psychologists. Political parties have heavy budgets for their IT cells, which work in areas such as data crunching, online reputation management for political parties as well as online reputation management for individual politicians are taken care of via platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp etc. And don’t think that the traditional model of putting up hoardings and shouting slogans has died. In fact that model will never die, as people like to see and hear their leader in person. The online campaign has amplified their efforts, making their achievements look bigger and shortcomings smaller.
Elections have always been an important national activity for any country as the future of the entire nation depends on them. Different political parties are bound to market their candidate in the best and efficient way. Indian loksabha elections 2014 have proved the power of political marketing. The 2014 election campaign would go down in history as the first one where digital crowd sourcing played a key role in shaping speeches. The party which initiated the introduction of technology in elections in 2014 using the creative services of social media and 3D modern tools, succeeded in persuading the youth which ultimately resulted in their win. The timing of the advertising ‘Ab ki baar M… Sarkaar’ campaign on TV was very crucial. ‘Har Har M…, Ghar Ghar M…’ and ‘Sab ka saath sab ka vikas’ was well accompanied with pre-recorded video messages in villages. While this campaign was decisive and to the point as compared with the tagline of the other national party ‘Harhaath Shakti, Harhaath Tarakki’ failed to impress. The ongoing election campaign is flooded with a number of taglines from all the political parties and wait till 23rd May 2019 when with results we will also come to know which tagline has smashed the box office. And for me the tagline of Election Commission of India, ‘Desh Ka Maha Tyohaar’ also deserves a consolation reward.
As India has become digital, social media has also become the most powerful tools to reach millions of voters with just one click. That it is why it is playing an important role and has a huge impact on Elections 2019, and it is sure whatever may be the outcome on 23rd of May, the Elections 2019 are campaigned and contested on social media and we might see in 2024 the elections would be won and lost online.
(The author is Branch Head in J&K Bank BU Patel Nagar Jammu)
Arjun Singh Rathore