Marketers love analyzing communication. Be it TV ads, emails, push notifications from random apps or billboards (we don’t make safe drivers)!
There is also the excitement of unearthing some insider information that was till now only confined to the ‘strategic leadership’ of the company that created the ad.
We were happy with this everyday intellectual stimulation of ours when in mid-January 2020 we got absolutely fed up of political campaigns repeatedly interrupting our marketing meditation. Did you know that ad spends in the 2020 Delhi elections are estimated to be close to 200 crores
? Anyways, we decided we would take our marketing tools that we teach in our programs and analyze the Delhi election campaign of 2020. When we found a lot of delicious stuff, we did a free webinar at Kraftshala Live. A lot of the marketing junta that attended it, loved it and wanted it in a written format. Well, this is how you are reading this
So let us start brewing this concoction of Marketing & Politics, shall we?
The Ultimate Marketing Analysis of Delhi Elections Campaigns 2020
2. Analyzing AAP’s campaigns
3. Analyzing BJP’s campaigns
4. The Pivot
5. The Ending Note
Now, to analyze any brand communication, Kraftshala has created
a framework that we call the Marketing Prism Framework. Just like a prism segregates white light into the separate colors of VIBGYOR, similarly the Marketing Prism breaks up a communication into its key elements.
While we will not use the framework in its entirety for this analysis, it will be still be central to this article. You will get to know the different parts in it as we analyze the campaigns.
Let us start with the Viewer & the Objective
To understand the target viewer and the objective of this ad, it is helpful for us to divide the Delhi electorate into three segments.
Segment 1: BJP Loyalists: This the BJP core.
There are folks that agree with almost the entire width of BJP’s
manifesto. While the actual campaigns will have much more rigorous
data, we can approximate their size by looking at the number of
people who voted for BJP even when there was an AAP wave in the
state elections of 2015: ~ 32%
Segment 2: AAP Loyalists + Anti – BJP:
This includes those folks who are fierce AAP loyalists and also those who are fiercely Anti-BJP. We can approximate their size by looking at the Non-BJP vote share in Delhi in 2019 General Elections: INC (22%) + AAP (18%) ~ 40%
Segment 3: Swing Voters:
These are the ones. Most of them voted for Mr. Modi in 2019 general elections and hence we can infer that a majority of them are either happy or reasonably satisfied by the progress made at the center. Most of them also agree that the work done by AAP in Delhi has been good.
Now, while the first two segments are folks that are very highly unlikely to shift bases (very loyal in marketing terms and both segments insist that the other is ‘Loyal Beyond Reason’), the Swing Voters are the ones that can be made to change their mind.
They constitute another ~ 30% of the electorate size.
Let us go over to our first campaign now.
Analyzing AAP’s campaigns
Now while political parties put out a lot of communication throughout the election campaign, it is important to choose a piece that is central to their strategy.
We chose an ad that AAP put the maximum amount of monies behind. No surprise that this video was also by far the most viewed video from the Delhi Election Campaign, with more than 8 million views.
It is the ‘Kya aap BJP Samarthak hain” campaign video by AAP
Please make sure that you watch this video at least twice before reading further.
So let us now analyze this video using the Marketing PRISM Framework. (shown above)
The Target Viewer
So, who do you think this ad was targeting? Who was the viewer and what was the objective?
Well BJP loyalists is not the target viewer of this ad. As discussed earlier, the loyalists are not going to budge. We actually took to the streets and showed this campaign to people, and what we found out was that BJP loyalists couldn’t even bear to watch it in its entirety.
The Target Viewer of this ad are the Swing Voters. As mentioned earlier, these guys voted for BJP in the General Elections and hence do approve of the BJP Government. AAP appreciates this support and calls them ‘BJP Samarthak.’
The Objective of this ad is to get Swing Voters to vote for AAP.
Insight & Communication Challenge
Now Insight & Communication Challenge are one of the most important parts of the VIBGYOR reverse marketing framework. To keep things a little simple, in this analysis we will largely focus on the Communication Challenge.
If you could perform a surgery in the mind of the consumer and could convince them of just one single thing, then that is the Communication Challenge.
It defines the direction of the entire ad creative. It is what a brand manager fills up in the blank below:
The one thing that I want to convince my Target Viewer of is that “………”
So what is the single most important thing that this AAP ad wanted to convince the Swing Voters of?
Let us breakdown this campaign line by line to find out.
Analyzing the exact statements of this ad it seems that the Communication Challenge that they had probably intended was:
I want to convince my TG that… if you vote for BJP, all the good work that AAP has done in government service delivery will go to waste.
Why do you think AAP went for such a communication strategy which:
- Is layered- is not as simple as how most Political Campaigns are - “We are brilliant, we have done amazing work”
- More importantly it does not attack BJP straight off- “BJP is evil”
To understand this, let us take up the example of probably the greatest work of art that has been created on the concept of Communication Challenge.
A totem to those who guess it!
The entire movie is basically built around trying to get a rich businessman to sell the empire that he inherited from his father.
Leonardo De Caprio (who was still Oscarless when this movie came out) and his team are adept professionals in getting into people’s brains and incepting ideas into their mind. Let us try to understand Communication Challenge from their perspective.
The Target Viewer in this case is Robert, the rich businessman’s son
The Desired Mindset is where the entire game is. What is the desired mindset that we want to incept in the mind of our target viewer that they get convinced of our communication challenge?
Well the best Desired Mindsets are:
- TG should already believe it.
- TG should not be opposed to it.
- They are not salesy or too explicit
And hence the Desired Mindset that Leonardo and his team incepted is:
Now let us come back to our Target Viewer. Remember it is the Swing Voter.
A part of the answer you have already got. AAP didn’t go for any of the other routes because:
- “We are brilliant, we have done amazing work”- This is too salesy and explicit. The communication would have simply revealed the intent of the call- ‘Give me votes.’
- “BJP is evil”- This is something which the Swing Voter is actually opposed to.
The second decision is especially crucial because AAP had done this a lot in the past. Here is Saurabh from AAP very clearly explaining this decision on NDTV.
They instead played on this indecisiveness or the duality of the Swing Voter. Acknowledging it and using it as their Campaign slogan even.
“Delhi me toh Kejriwal” actually acknowledges the fact that in the centre you guys want to vote Modi in. We accept it. But in Delhi, you know Kejriwal is better.
Functional Benefits: A promise of brilliant education, accessible health care and other government services for your family.
- I am securing a bright future for my family, my city and my country
- I can rely on Kejriwal just like a member of my family.
Now the emotional benefits are multiple & they are a bit tangential to our communication Challenge and to our functional benefits. They do not add up on each other and make each other stronger or more memorable.
Let us take the example of this
communication that does this well.
GYan - Reason to Believe:
The Reason to Believe is what makes the Target Viewer believe in the benefits. When Colgate tells you that it is affiliated by the Indian Dental Association or Olay states that it has the Regenerist Advanced Anti-Ageing Micro Sculpting technology, those are RTBs.
While there was no reason to believe in this ad, there were some very strong RTBs that AAP had created throughout the campaign.
Origins is about the Brand Personality, the Brand Essence and the Purpose. While it makes for another very interesting deep dive, we will not go into Origins here.
So far we have discussed everything about the strategy of the ad. This is the part that analyses the Execution of the ad. At Kraftshala, we use the following checklist to rate a campaign on storytelling execution.
- Is Simple?
- Is Distinctive?
- Does it keep the medium in mind?
- Has a call to action?
- Connects to the Target Viewer?
Let us pick up the first one.
Well simplicity is of paramount importance. See how simple Trump keeps stuff. It is often said that a campaign should be for the lowest common denominator.
This ad fails on simplicity. Let us explain to you why.
Watch the ad and go line by line. If communication challenge is what the viewer needs to take away from this campaign, how many lines do you think are helping build this narrative? And how many lines are distracting you from this narrative?
Remember that the Narrative is ‘if you vote for BJP, all the good work that AAP has done in government service delivery will go to waste.’
Here is the answer:
As you can see only about 35-40% of the script is on point.
Because of this, the message that comes out from this ad, especially for those people who are slightly more predisposed towards BJP is:
Yes, addressing the other party supporters in this way has not been done before.
Does it keep the Medium in mind?
Yes, created specifically for phone with a vertical video. Cut down from 3 minutes
keeping in account the attention spans on internet.
Has a call to action?
Yes. Clearly asks for vote.
Connects to the Target Viewer?
Yes. It is based on a strong understanding of the user.
Analyzing BJP’s campaigns
This time, before we go into the Marketing PRISM, let us go into the broad strategy at play.
Now the part to note here from the BJP’s perspective is that BJP was trying to defeat someone already in power.
Now the typical strategy for defeating incumbents is:
- Figure out point(s) of Dissonance
- Make it the focal point with top of the mind recall
- Don’t budge from it and WIN
The first point, which is choosing a point of Dissonance is the most critical one. Now there is a simple 2 by 2 targeting matrix that outlines the topics one should talk about when trying to defeat a Ruling Player.
A great marketing example for ‘Trying to defeat the ruling player’ is when Yippee tried to displace Maggi from the top position of the instant noodle category. Remember this campaign that came out in the winters?
Taste is the most important aspect when we think of Instant Noodles. But since Yippee knew that Maggi has a strong hold on Taste, they went after the stickiness of Maggi, especially in winters. It really worked as Yippee was able to take share from Maggi.
Let us check out how the above targeting matrix looked for BJP when they were up against the Ruling Party Congress in 2014 General Elections.
As you can see a lot of good areas. And so they came up with the
very famous campaign ‘Janta Maaf Nahi Karegi’:
Now let us look at the Targeting Matrix for the 2020 Delhi elections.
So a lot of areas that were not BJP’s relative strength primarily because AAP had demonstrable proof and RTBs that they had done good work in those areas.
So the first Strategy of BJP was the following:
Increase their own Relative Strength on the issues in yellow. Both by bringing AAP’s hold on those issues down as well as making promises of their own on those issues.
Let us analyse campaigns from this strategy.
Also there were tons of display & billboard ads that they put their monies on:
I want to convince my TG that BJP will bring the same development in Delhi that it brought at the centre.
Functional: Promise of Good Water, Lessened Pollution, Transportation, Housing to the slum dwellers, Free and Accessible Health Services, Lessened Traffic Problems
Confidence & Trust towards Growth
GYan-Reason to Believe (RTB):
Well there is nothing. They make claims for their future promises but do not substantiate it using any stats (which they could have using the central government’s record.)
Surprisingly, a fairly down-the-ditches opponent has done a better job of the RTB in their communication.
They talked about the development that Congress brought to Delhi with stats.
- Delhi became the greenest capital in the world
- World’s largest CNG Public Transport
- India’s best domestic airport
- India’s first Kerosene free state
- 5 times more doctors
- India’s Health Capital- 28 new hospitals & 20348 new beds
Let us come back to the BJP campaign:
Hum hain Bhajpa!
How could it have been a better campaign?
Well substantiate your promises with some RTBs. They can be stats of what you have been able to achieve in the other states in this term. Referring to some of the huge development problems that BJP has solved at the Centre like toilets, LPG, Housing, etc., even if they are not the exact problems that Delhi is facing, could have made the campaign more believable.
Would they have won with this? Probably not. Read on to find out.
- Is Simple? Yes, simple language and simple logic of how they’ll make everything better.
- Is Distinctive? No, pretty standard political narrative.
- Does it keep the medium in mind? No, too long to make any dent online.
- Is within the Personality of the Brand? Yes
- Has a call to action? Yes
- Connects to the Target Viewer? NO
Let us talk about the last point for a bit. So why did it not connect with the voters? Does the consumer believe in BJP’s point of Dissonance or not?
Our answer lies in the same Opposition Opportunity Matrix that we saw earlier.
The point BJP was playing at was not of relative strength to them. It was very difficult to persuade people that AAP had not worked well on these issues. Poll after poll showed that the Delhi electorate believed that AAP had worked.
Source: Economic Times 26th Jan 2020
And the more BJP attacked this point, the bigger the point became! By talking about this point, BJP kept feeding into AAP’s hands. Elementary mistake.
When the 2nd person in command in the country after Mr. Modi could not elicit a change in the electorate’s mindset about AAP’s work, in came PLAN B.
Suddenly a lot of BJP spokesperson’s started focusing on Polarization. Trying to equate this election into a ‘Hindu vs Muslim’ or a ‘Shaheen Bagh’ related issue.
It can be cross checked with a lot of events that happened around that time.
All of this resulted in a lot of sudden rise in chatter around Shaheen Bagh at that point of time.
And as a perfect embodiment of the Plan B came this campaign:
Read through the lyrics to understand Plan B
This blatant campaign charged up BJP Loyalists but it alienated some swing voters who do not see how this issue is relevant to the election.
The Ending Note
Dear AAP and BJP,
In marketing there is a P.C.M.
It means that the Product
is more important than the Communication
which in turn is more important than the Media
. There is nothing truer than this rule.
While marketers like us can help Political Parties in communicating better, in the long run, it is only a strong product that will keep you competitive. No amount of great communication or media strategy can help you out. Or let us say no amount of great communication or media strategy SHOULD help you out. Just what you can see happening with Congress. Long live Democracy!
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