June 2008

Eye Askant

Governance and political campaigns from a marketing perspective.

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Unfortunately, and unlike consumer brands, the manner by which politicians are publicized is inefficient, haphazard, prone to misunderstanding and malicious distortion.

Publicity in the news reduces him to soundbites, which oversimplifies what he wants to say. Public speeches are not appropriate venues to go deep into his advocacies and platform of government. And the 30-second technology of advertising restricts him to punchlines and jingles.

Every consumer product attains success only when it is turned into brand. And so with the politician: brand awareness, not just recognition, is a basic need.

Previous media exposure has become crucial:

“If the political aspirants were to be examined, those who led in the media quick counts were actually “media stars.”

Media made them, talked about them, created their… brand image.

Such candidates are considered “media stars” because they were often seen on television, whether in news programs or entertainment shows, well before the campaign period began… Political ads merely served to reinforce previous media exposure.” 

Why Pichay still lost: The Importance of Political Ads


Simply stated, media exposure means television.

With its 95-percent reach among Filipino households, television has become the Filipinos’ most preferred source of news and information.

The big news is that it is even more powerful now, simply because an entire generation has lost the desire to read. It is hardly an exaggeration to declare that nobody thirty years old and below picks up a newspaper. Recent media consumption statistics of the advertising industry show that if you’re advertising on print this year, you’re talking to the same people who read about your product or service last year -- only there are less of them today.

And it’s not advertising.

Aside from being expensive, advertising is ineffective in relaying more substantial matters and issues. 

The experiences of former senator John Henry Osmeña and former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim provide interesting examples. Despite being among the top 10 TV ad spenders in 2004, with expenses amounting to P52.01 million, Osmeña lost.

On the other hand, Lim spent only P4.43 million in TV political ads and won.

Newsbreak’s Spin and Sell: How political ads shaped the 2004 elections claimed that Lim’s victory was understandable as he was exposed to the media prior to the campaigns by being the host of a public service TV program and a radio program.


Content Creates Consent and Consensus

To engender a movement, to move minds and hearts, advertising is a feeble instrument. To get that almost imperceptible nod from the viewer -- to get consent, one needs programming, or content.

Imagine: Introducing yourself in a program that welcomes you. Imagine being able to expound on issues and explain your positions on what affects the community in a medium that sells products and ideas well. Without hostile or disinterested program anchors and TV hosts distorting your statements. Imagine updating your constituents about your projects.

Imagine delivering a well-crafted and comprehensive brand image, in your locality, using the ubiquity of the TV set. Reaching all TV households.


Content -- done sincerely and well -- makes the use of the clout of television practical and viable for local politicians.

As research has proven, previous media exposure is more important than exposure during the campaign period. We would do well to consider Noli De Castro’s MGB -- albeit designed as commercial programming before his intention to run for public office -- as an example of what media is capable of doing.

Branded Content is very like the chameleon:  it is redesigned to be relevant to the task at hand. Unlike regular programming -- branded content creates consent for an idea in the mind of the consumer in an entertaining and sincere manner. It may be a TV show, a radio broadcast, a live event, an article in the newspaper, anything to do with programming.

The Candidate
as a Brand.

“If the political aspirants were to be examined, those who led in the media quick counts were actually “media stars.”

The politician is really very like a product.  He needs to be known, his image easily recognized, his attributes and skills understood, his platform and promises made familiar to -- and desired by -- his target audience.


About the Professor

In his 35 years in advertising, Professor Pozon has been been involved, in varying degrees, independently and as an agency man, with political campaigns.