Narendra Modi’s campaign team has used some very innovative and timely decisions that has helped give high visibility and add potent muscle to the election campaign. Here are some of the strategies that have worked.
1) Understanding Consumer Insights: We always say that marketing has to be based on consumer insights. Recently, you must have seen advertisements of Fogg deodorants where they differentiate themselves from competition saying that we are ‘All deodorant. No gas” vis-a-vis its competitors. This is something they learned through consumer research. Similarly, the campaign managers of the BJP conducted consumer research. They found that the brand value of Narendra Modi is much higher than that of the BJP. Therefore, they took the decision to project Narendra Modi instead of projecting BJP or the NDA in all their campaigns.
Right now, after the victory, it all seems obvious. But 6 months back, when Narendra Modi was anointed the prime ministerial candidate, it was not that obvious. In fact, it was controversial. Even some of the senior leaders from the BJP were against the decision. The fact that they went ahead with their decision is a masterstroke.The campaign managers realized that Brand Modi is more powerful than brand BJP.
2) Getting the Best Minds on Board: Second, they hired the best known names in Indian advertising. Sam Balsara, Prasoon Joshi, Piyush Pandey. These people have a wealth of experience behind them. They have run successful campaigns with hundreds of brands in their lives. They took sentimentality out of the picture and looked at this as business. They decided that their client was the BJP. If BJP was any other brand, how would they sell? Having these experienced senior people like the trio certainly helped.
3) Catchy Slogan: There are slogans in marketing. Nike has ‘Just do it’. Similarly, BJP decided to have a catchy slogan. ‘Ab ki Bar, Modi Sarkar’. It was extremely catchy. It was easy on the tongue. Everybody could say it. Even the non-Hindi speakers could understand what it stood for and they could easily articulate it. So, it resonated with everybody.
4) Integrated communications campaign. This involves the use of multiple methods of media but the message you send out should be a unified one. This was done brilliants by the BJP and their campaign managers. The message was Brand Modi and what he stood for. They ran TV ads, print ads, radio ads, they used YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. They targeted different audiences and segments. They used TV to reach the average man. They used Internet to reach out to the youngsters who are online most of the time. They reached rural people through road shows and rallies. Narendra Modi himself addressed hundreds of rallied throughout the country and he also has a great ability to communicate. Just like Bill Clinton. He had an innate tendency to connect with the audience. I see the same thing with Narendra Modi.
5) Word of Mouth: There was a clear perception that Modi was a doer. He could get things done. There was a widespread perception that that there was a policy paralysis with the previous government. Modi and his team took advantage and leveraged his image as a doer. Even things like word of mouth and viral hits like Kolaveri Di did not use any marketing. It just spread among people. There are a lot of migrant laborers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh worked in Gujarat and when they went back home, they spread positive word of mouth about Narendra Modi and his team.
6) Database Marketing. Particularly in important states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, what the campaign managers did was collect huge database and they worked on reaching out directly to the people. It also greatly helped that the opposition ran a very lackluster campaign run by the opposition party. All these factors mentioned above resulted in a landslide victory. While advertising and marketing alone did not help, but in my view, they were major contributors.
Dr. Bharadhwaj S
Chair Professor of Marketing, Great Lakes Institute of Management.