As Indian political parties gear up for the upcoming General Elections, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has initiated a media pitch. Highly placed sources in the industry inform that a pitch is already underway in Delhi.
While many media agencies are reportedly staying away from the pitch citing financial issues, it is learnt that most of the leading names in the media business are part of the process. A media agency executive who is not pitching for the business tells afaqs!, "There are many policies and rules that dictate political advertising. Additionally, even from a finance point of view, it is a very 'restricted' account to handle. Many a time they don't have enough budgets to invest in a good campaign. It's better to take money in advance and then work, than work and not get paid, which happens a lot in political advertising."
BJP was established in 1980 and is one of the major national political parties in India. It led the national government along with a coalition of parties of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) from 1998 to 2004, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister. Since its defeat in the 2004 General Elections, it has been the principal opposition party in the parliament.
BJP has named Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as its candidate for Prime Minister in the 2014 elections. Modi's vision for the India of tomorrow resonates with the BJP philosophy of 'Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas'.
Interestingly, Modi recently focused efforts to change the way Gujarat is perceived. In fact, 2012 onwards, considerable efforts and funds have been pumped into the cause, including setting up of a team, the sole purpose of which was to aggressively promote 'brand Gujarat'. The 'Khushboo Gujarat Ki' ad films that featured Gujarat Tourism's brand ambassador, actor Amitabh Bachchan, are said to have significantly increased tourism in the state.
BJP is not the only political party that is gearing up for an elaborate national ad campaign, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Sources claim other parties too are planning on roping in creative and media agencies.
The idea of conducting a formal pitch process and consequently appointing an agency for a political party is the first step towards approaching a political party like a 'regular' brand. In fact, while brands are typically inanimate products that communications agencies breathe life into through their campaigns, political parties are - as a media expert points out - "live brands". The agencies, thus, are faced with the unique challenge of promoting these personality-driven brands effectively through their communication.
On Republic Day 2014, its party president Rajnath Singh launched a new nationwide initiative, Mere Sapno Ka Bharat, on the India272+ portal. According to the party's press statement, "It is an idea-centric and pro-people initiative with focus on empowering the average Indian to contribute towards nation building. The emphasis is on inviting ideas from the common man, ideas that will contribute towards improving the current-day governance and working."
Through the online medium, a volunteer may record or click a video or photo and post it on the India 272+ platform. Their thoughts on improving day-to-day functioning of the nation and its systems will then be reviewed by a panel of judges (comprising well known names like actors Kirron Kher and Paresh Rawal). The group of finalists will then meet to discuss ideas with Modi himself, according to the statement.
As reported in a recent story on afaqs!, a Google survey suggests that almost four out of every 10 urban voters (or 37 per cent) in India are online. It is perhaps safe to assume that a large part of the media brief given to the participating agencies will be based on a media plan for the digital platform.