Modi’s Mag­i­cal Bran­dobast

From tra­di­tional nukkad sab­has and street plays to well-planned branded ral­lies, high-tech 3D ral­lies to Bol­ly­wood-style an­thems and jin­gles, Team Modi left no stone un­turned to reach out to ev­ery nook and cor­ner of In­dia

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

ter­na­tive to Ke­jri­wal and a stronger al­ter­na­tive to his own col­leagues,” says Abra­ham Koshy, pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing at the In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment,Ahmed­abad. “The voter had to de­cide whether tovote­forhi­mand­not.Theothersin the­fray­w­ereir­rel­e­vant.” The me­dia bom­bard­ment was com­ple­mented by an equally ef­fec­tive di­rect mar­ket­ing strat­egy. In the mid­dle of March, as many as 650 raths­builtonone-ton­ne­m­ini-trucks made 138,900 trips into the vil­lages of Ut­tar Pradesh and Bi­har, the two most pop­u­lous states. Ev­ery vil­lage chau­pal and nukkad was tar­geted with a 32-minute mes­sage, tai­lored for a spe­cific au­di­ence. While in ur­ban ar­eas, the pro­jec­tion was that of a pro-growth re­formist leader, in the hin­ter­land Modi was pro­jected as the an­ti­dote to in­fla­tion, cor­rup­tion and job­less­ness. Tales about Gu­jarat’s so-called eco­nomic mir­a­cle were told in lo­cal di­alects. Some­times, Modi emerged in­3D­form. “The last mile con­tact, the doorto-door cam­paign­ing, the leg work and so­cial con­nect worked,” says Dhar­men­dra Prad­han, BJP’s cam­paign man­ager in Bi­har and a mem­ber of the team that ex­e­cuted the plan con­ceived by Modi’s key aide Amit Shah. The door-to-door part of the cam­paign was led by ‘Loha San­grah Ab­hiyan’ (Iron Collection Cam­paign for a Sar­dar Pa­tel statue in Gu­jarat) and ‘Ek Note, Ka­mal Par Vote’cam­paign. The 360-de­gree mar­ket­ing ef­fort for brand Modi tar­geted the hin­ter­land and some 12 crore first-time vot­ers (of the to­tal 82 crore) with equal alacrity. The young and ur­ban vot­ers were spo­ken to in a lan­guage they un­der­stood best and by young, dig­i­tally savvy vol­un­teers who lever­aged the world of TV, ra­dio and so­cial me­dia. “It­wa­so­neof the­most­tech­nol­o­gyaided cam­paigns in re­cent years. It was more tech-savvy than tech brands them­selves,” says brand­ing ex­pertHar­ishBi­joor. Twit­ter was abuzz with Modi sup­port­er­sandtroll­sa­like,and­mil­lions of vot­ers re­ceived per­son­alised di­rect mes­sages from Modi’s of­fi­cial han­dle. Nearly 11 mil­lion tweets be­tween Jan­uary 1 and May 12 had a men­tion of Modi, says Ra­heel Khur­sheed, head of news, pol­i­tics and govern­ment at Twit­ter In­dia. The Modi brand-build­ing ef­fort started in Fe­bru­ary 2013 when he met­stu­dentsof ShriRamCol­le­geof Com­mer­ceinDel­hi­and­wooedthem with his de­vel­op­ment talk. This was fol­lowed by a sim­i­lar meet­ing with stu­dents of Pune’s Fer­gus­son Col­lege­some­four­month­s­later.

The cam­paign had three lay­ers — one con­trolled by Modi him­self through his team of vol­un­teers, sec­ond by party lead­ers who or­gan­ised meet­ings and in­ter­ac­tions with small groups, and the third by party work­ers and RSS pracharaks on the ground­do­in­glast-milemes­sag­ing. Among Modi’s close aides in Gand­hi­na­gar who kept con­trol over his core strat­egy was Prashant Kishor, a 36-year-old lanky, be­spec­ta­cled, pub­lic health specialist who left his job with the United Na­tions in Africa to work with Modi in 2011. Kishorwasthe­brain­be­hindthenow ad­mired Cit­i­zens for Ac­count­able Gov­er­nance, or CAG, In­dia’s first US-style po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee (PAC) out­fit that had sev­eral young pro­fes­sion­als who quit their jobs to work­forModi.

This not-for-profit group was at the cen­tre of some very in­no­va­tive work­inModi’scam­paign,in­clud­ing in­ter­ac­tion with col­lege stu­dents, 3D holo­graph­ics ral­lies and Chai Pe Char­chaevents.Inall,Mod­i­cov­ered 437 phys­i­cal ral­lies, trav­elled over 3 lakh km, and took part in 5,500 video con­fer­ences, Chai Pe Charcha and 3D events, an un­prece­dented out­reach ef­fort. The beauty of this cam­paign, says Bi­joor, was that Modi was the fo­cus. “Inany­brandingex­er­cise,thebrand must­beas­in­gleen­tity.So­here,ithad to­beei­therBJPorModi,”hesays. Thep­ar­tyre­port­edlyspen­taround Rs 400 crore on the cam­paign de­signed by agencies Soho Square, TAGandMadi­son.

A flurry of bi­ogra­phies and comics on Modi over the last few months set

the foun­da­tion for brand­ing of the Gu­jarat’s

CM and build­ing a con­nect with masses

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