Election campaign taglines are meant to be tactical and ought to play up to the mood of the land. The golden rule of a successful political campaign is that it needs to peak at the right time, and more importantly, it shouldn't give the rival party any scope to retaliate.
When Prime Minister, Narendra Modi (then Chief Minister of Gujarat) was campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he initially portrayed a dismal picture of the Indian economy, but towards the end of the campaign, he is known to have been advised by marketing guru, Professor Jagdish Sheth, to strike an emotional chord by promising the people of India the return of good times. And, that led to the birth of the tagline, "Achche Din Ayenge". The mood then was already one of anti-incumbency and the 'Achche Din' tagline ensured that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power with an overwhelming majority. The other successful tagline, "Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar", also echoed well at a time when the country looked for a powerful leader. The then prime minister was portrayed as a weakling.
"Election advertising is all about 'now'. There will be a larger opinion that will emerge and the campaign has to be built around that," says Prathap Suthan, Founder, Bang In The Middle. The larger opinion could emerge just a few weeks prior to the elections and the political parties need to have the ammunition to carpet bomb their new campaign tagline.
This brings up the question: Is PM Modi's latest 'Chowkidar' tagline a little early in the day? Will it help him get back to power? The PM has been saying that he is the 'Chowkidar' or watchman of the nation and any act of terrorism or corruption won't be missed by his vigilant eyes. The PM's, as well as his party member's social media handles, have the prefix 'Chowkidar'. But how could the watchman of the country let terror attacks such as Pulwama happen or let fraudsters such as Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi escape?
"This campaign should have been BJP's last-minute ammunition," points out a senior political branding expert, who believes that the 'Chowkidar' campaign has allowed enough time for the opposition to retaliate. "The BJP has to deal with not just big allegations but also skirmishes such as the Gujarat BJP chief's son getting caught copying in an exam. These incidents can cost them the elections too," he adds. BJP's Gujarat Chief's son was recently caught cheating in an exam and he was at once trolled with the Congress tagline for the upcoming elections, 'Chowkidar Chor Hai'.
The BJP has often got the timing wrong with its election campaign, says this political brand expert. He refers to the BJP Government's "India Shining" campaign in 2004. "The India Shining campaign failed because the then NDA Government not just aired the campaign much in advance, it also blasted 52 ads with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's picture, boasting about its contribution to the various sectors of the economy. The number of ads created fatigue and the campaign ultimately backfired."
Suthan of Bang In The Middle, who is the creative mind behind the 'India Shining' campaign (he was the National Creative Director of Grey then), says that the India Shining campaign was meant to attract foreign investment in India, it was never meant to be a political campaign. "The India Shining campaign got the then government $120 billion worth of FDI, but it was not meant for the common man. The opposition punctured the campaign by asking: India Shinning se aam admi ko kya mila," points out Suthan.
The first leg of the elections is just a few days away and it will be interesting to see how the political parties will capitalise on the mood of the nation. The brand experts, however, are of the opinion that creating too much hype could misfire.
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