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The Marketing of Democracy - Influence of advertising in Indian elections

Elections in India were always a manifestation of the victory of the best advertising technique, where the political party, which promoted its manifesto in the most relatable way, would emerge victoriously. With time, however, the advertising techniques in elections are changing to suit the needs of the digitalised world.

Wall posters, flags, hoardings, leaflets and other printed publicity material was always a part of election propaganda. However, the real-time promotions on social media, backed by smart looking ads on television and the radio are being used in contemporary elections on a massive scale for propaganda purposes, as these mediums can harness the full attention of the voters and are thus better depictive.

The Indian Connection

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s usage of the radio to convey his mind through the weekly ‘Maan ki Baat’ is a powerful electoral device whose strength is manifested by the fact that it runs round the year.

With aggressive propaganda marketing undertaken by all parties, election campaigns are now more professionally motivated than ever. More and more political parties are now opting for professional advertising services to promote their election propaganda. Short advertising films which focus largely on public sentiments criticising current incumbents, pioneered by the massively successful “Janta Maaf Nahi Karegi’ campaign, undertaken by the Bharatiya Janta Party before the 2014 parliamentary elections, have now become the conventional norm. Peppier taglines, aesthetically elite manifesto presentation styles and well executed social media campaigns are being projected by each party to gain the maximum emotional reliability of the voters, no matter what their budget or political presence. Smart video marketing has become one of the most important strategies for political campaigns.



Brands too want to leverage the sentiment

Influenced by the tremendous marketing impact of elections, advertisers are marking it as a business cycle to boost the promotion of their products, thus giving the essence of democracy a consumerist and commercial tinge. These advertisements are usually shown to induce the electoral mood on the promotion of purity in their products or services through values like honesty, efficiency or integrity by criticising political corruption, social insecurities or other administrative evils in the contemporary scenario of the country. Remember the iconic advertisement film by an undergarment brand which shows a voter shedding his shirt while overcoming all obstacles outside a polling booth such as politicians and riggers and then casting his opinion only in his baniyan, only to come out and claim it on the face of the minister that "jo fit nahin usey vote nahi"?



Ode to negative marketing

However, advertisers must remember their limits, when it comes to situation specific business cycles such as elections, as incidents of misinterpretations of healthy and humorous criticisms have resulted in serious consequences, many times in this country. Not long ago, the sharing of a cartoon post based on Satyajit Ray’s iconic film Sonar Kella on a social media website, by a professor in West Bengal, caused the arrest of a professor.But as they say that bad publicity is good publicity, perhaps advertisers would not shy from using even negativity to their advantage.



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About the Author

BeerAppan is one of our Larger Magnets, who loves his ‘hair’ more than anything in this whole world. Well Almost. Beer or Beer-iyani also do make to that coveted list. Besides his never ending love for Chicken, he is a die-hard lover of TAB and CAB (Ola). On a lighter note, he is a strong opposer of new age marketing, and demands brands to be anti-social! :)
 


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