It is difficult at this point in time to comment on the possible margin of victory for the two major political parties- the Congress and the BJP. But one thing that is pretty clear is that the BJP certainly has an edge over its rival when it comes to media marketing and advertising.
One of the most interesting things in this Lok Sabha election is definitely its myriad advertisement campaigns. Never before has electronic and print media been used so extensively to create an impact on voters. Political parties are hiring top marketing agencies in a clear indication of how serious they are when it comes to manufacturing consent. Studies have shown the impact of clever media campaigns in US Presidential Elections. In fact, theories of Direct Effect Paradigm and Manufacturing Consent derive their basis from numerous election campaigns in the West.
Television, a more traditional media unit in India, has been the most favoured means of advertising. Almost every commercial space available in channels is now dedicated to election related advertisements. Congress has decided to stick to their age-old punch line of ‘Bharat Nirman’. They may not have used the tag in an obvious manner, but depicting all cultural classes and focusing more on the economically backward classes actually makes things look very Congress-like. Moreover, their ads feature two major icons of the party- Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. However, it is interesting to watch the minimal presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in these ads. A successful tenure at the centre would have definitely made the party use him as the face of their campaign, but in this case they decided to stick to the Gandhi family.
What the Congress lacks in their advertisements other than Mr. Singh is diversity- they are stuck to just one type of ads in their campaign. They had one series which targeted the youth by portraying Rahul Baba as an icon. But lately they have shifted to a generic ad focusing more on the theme of ‘Bharat Nirman’.
The BJP on the other hand is well ahead, both in terms of diversity and quality. Their ads depict clear leadership- obviously that of Modi. The catchy punch line of ‘Abki baar Modi sarkar’ is picking up so well that it is now being used as a meme by the youth. But what is more important here is that irrespective of whether we like the Gujarat man or not, it is creating an impact. They have pin-pointed the most generic of issues- women’s safety, price rise, electricity and employment and used a character to emotionally appeal to the public- asking for a change. They have also cleverly used the nation’s passion for cricket and taken into consideration the ongoing T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. The BJP now has a special series of ads just on cricket. What could have been a better way of marketing?
All this is just on television. Apart from that, almost all mobile applications equipped with Google ads carry BJP advertisements. Not just YouTube but even games are carrying BJP ads. This has definitely impressed the colour saffron on the youth’s mind. Even in offline promotion, all key hording in student areas are booked by the BJP.
Just in Delhi, all Delhi University hoardings are coloured saffron, and North and South Campuses bear the Modi slogan. Now that is definitely a more effective way of appealing to the youth, rather than portraying Rahul Baba who is now not even in the youth age category. But the smartest trick for the BJP in Delhi was using the Delhi Metro.; the whole of metro system seems to have been Modi-fied.
Whatever the outcome of the election, almost everyone agrees that the BJP has created an impact by its colour saffron campaign. If you happen to play a game on your cell phone and have the lotus ad running at the bottom, what more can you say about smart marketing techniques?
There are numerous other instances which can be compared at this point of time, but critically examining the advertisements and their impact on an average Indian, one can clearly say that the BJP is miles ahead of its competitors in this battlefield.