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206. 10 things Indian political marketers can learn from US politics

November 6, 2012

I have considered Elections to be my favourite sport since I was in Grade 4. That was back in 1989 when our television at home was 2 years old and the first General Election coverage was viewed by us on the small screen. That was when Rajiv Gandhi lost and my father was completing 15 years as political science professor and my mother 12 years as a history and civics teacher – so now you know.

Well this blog is about how I have keenly followed the US elections from a distance over the last 16 years, that is from Bill Clinton’s reelection campaign and to being in Chicago in person during Barack Obama’s bid for a second term. What has fascinated me is the way political marketing is undertaken in this country and the various elements that add to its charm including fundraising, merchandising, volunteering and rallying. I think there is a lot for Indian politicians and Indians at large to learn form the US Eections.

a) Announcement – announcing political candidature is a big deal and is done amidst much fanfare which is an opportunity to connect with supporters. In India parties distribute tickets which is how movies are meant to be watched.

b) Books – several leading politicians write at least one book that is directly connected to their life or ideology which gives potential supporters a peek into the thinking style. ind India several candidates can’t write a paragraph properly.

c) Primaries – this indeed is the highlight of democracy where intra party elections take place to arrive at the name of whom should be the party’s candidate. In India if your father or mother was not an elected representative you have no chance unless you are super rich or super connected.

d) Campaign Management – professionals give up full-time salaried jobs to form campaign teams. In India party workers or insiders with no professional qualification or training manage these campaigns and in several cases sons and daughters do so.

e) Fundraising – individuals and corporates transparently donate to campaigns. In India I have no clue how the parties become richer and richer.

f) Volunteering – people take time off from work or studies and volunteer for months before the general elections by saving enough to survive those months. In India leave alone politics the culture of volunteering is as good as absent unless it has a religious connection to it.

g) Merchandising – all kinds of fun things, accessories, essentials, garments and stationery are available to purchase online and in stores. This helps people wear them and belong to a community of supporters. In India cheap plastic flags and rusted pins are available outside party offices for purchase.

h) Online presence and social networking – voters are familiar with at least one of the three big social networks and can be easily reached out to using any of them. In India political parties are yet to utilise the power of social media to its full potential.

i) Meet and Greets – politicians meet various sections in smartly packaged meet and greets which also act as fund raisers and inspiring interactions. In India such access is limited and when it is available no one really cares.

j) Rallying – political rallies are something people look forward to attending. In India there are agencies that manage crowds and transport them from rural areas to fill large rally venues.

There is a day and night difference between the two political system and India is a 65 year old nation compared to America which is over two centuries old but some things have nothing to do with a country’s age and we all know it. Time to embrace change.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Deepti Kundra permalink
    November 6, 2012 10:02 pm

    Loved reading about your learnings/ insights. You have a knack of simplifying politics for a dummy like me. I think your reflections are evidence of the lack of maturity in marketing for Indian politics. One other point I do want to add, is about the journalism abilities that one has to possess in the US to talk at length and intelligently about politics. Partiality aside, I find that there is more classiness, depth and value addition made in journalistic reporting during US general elections.

    • November 6, 2012 11:27 pm

      I agree with you. Journalism adds to the value that Marketing brings to the table. Thanks for reading Deepti.

  2. Sunil permalink
    September 5, 2013 7:19 pm

    very nice… i am gonna start marketing a local politician for MLA election in some time. Hope I can do something different…

    • September 5, 2013 7:26 pm

      Which constituency will that be in? Thanks for reading. How did you get to this blog?

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