The busi­ness of elect­ing our lead­ers

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESS WEEK -

AS the Public Re­la­tions In­sti­tute of Ire­land (PRII) hosts a public af­fairs con­fer­ence to­day on the theme ‘All Changed, Changed Ut­terly?’ and the era of new pol­i­tics, a mar­ket­ing ad­vi­sor claims the seem­ingly end­less prob­lems in form­ing a new gov­ern­ment re­sulted from a fail­ure in brand­ing due to mixed mes­sages from politi­cians.

Ger­ard Tan­nam says the de­lay in agree­ing a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment and elect­ing Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny as Taoiseach shows voter choices were poor and dif­fer­ences be­tween can­di­dates un­clear. Peo­ple were told they could have any shade of gov­ern­ment they liked – so long as it’s bland. From a mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive, the out­come of­fers some in­sight into how the busi­ness of gov­ern­ment – and the job of elect­ing new ad­min­is­tra­tions – can be im­proved.

Ire­land’s Con­sti­tu­tion de­fines the na­tion’s busi­ness. It echoes the re­solve in the 1916 Procla­ma­tion “to pur­sue the hap­pi­ness and pros­per­ity of the whole na­tion and all its parts, cher­ish­ing all the chil­dren of the na­tion equally”. So how come the peo­ple we elect don’t de­liver on the as­pi­ra­tion we hold in form­ing a new gov­ern­ment? Tan­nam asks.

Why did the scan­dal of home­less­ness barely fea­ture in the run-up to polling?

Vot­ers must re­mind those we elect of the busi­ness we’re in as a coun­try and the re­sponse we ex­pect from them.

In mar­ket­ing terms, it’s a chance for a gov­ern­ment brand to of­fer vot­ers a choice. Where’s the unique sell­ing propo­si­tion – USP?

Con­sid­er­ing the brands of gov­ern­ment on of­fer through the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, group­ings and in­de­pen­dents, it’s ob­vi­ous vot­ers get con­fused.

A smor­gas­bord of can­di­dates’ mes­sages re­sulted in a cross-sec­tion of voter re­ac­tions and a hotch­potch gov­ern­ment. But that’s just tak­ing a su­per­fi­cial view of brand as im­age, Tan­nam adds.

Vot­ers must go deeper and con­sider the po­lit­i­cal brand as buyer and seller.

The pur­pose of a can­di­date or party is to urge more vot­ers to choose them over a ri­val brand. Vot­ers rely on po­lit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion to help make choices. Suc­cess­ful par­ties and can­di­dates tell vot­ers some­thing about the re­la­tion­ship they will en­joy by ‘ buy­ing’ into their brand.

Vot­ers are re­luc­tant to sup­port politi­cians who don’t out­line their poli­cies.

Re­luc­tance turns to cyn­i­cism as the top­ics dom­i­nat­ing po­lit­i­cal de­bate have lit­tle to do with the busi­ness of gov­ern­ment for which can­di­dates were elected. So how does a politi­cian sell a brand of gov­ern­ment?

Politi­cians must be busi­ness-like and show how the strat­egy al­lows vot­ers to de­liver on the prom­ise made in the Con­sti­tu­tion and how they will be held ac­count­able for the leg­is­la­tion they in­tro­duce when in power. Tan­nam says once we’re clear about the brand of gov­ern­ment we want, voter choices will im­prove and the dif­fer­ences be­tween can­di­dates will be clearer. As the Dubai Duty Free Ir­ish Open tees off at the K Club to­day, one in two con­sumers will be reached by a golf spon­sor in Ire­land this year, a study by spon­sor­ship agency On­side and Atomic Sport in­di­cates. World­wide spend on golf will top €1.5bn in 2016, in­clud­ing sup­port for pro and ama­teur tour­na­ments, char­ity fundrais­ers, en­dorse­ment deals and cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­ity.

The growth comes from var­i­ous sec­tors, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial ser­vices, as shown by the Ir­ish Open’s new tie-up with Bank of Ire­land, and car brands, the main backer of golf glob­ally.

On­side CEO John Trainor says the re­newed in­ter­est in golf is driven by the suc­cess of play­ers like Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne, the re­vamped Ir­ish Open and a de­mand for brands to jump on board the golf band­wagon.

The re­search shows 62 dif­fer­ent brands were linked to golf spon­sor­ship last year, with 46pc mak­ing a link be­tween spon­sors and golf, in­clud­ing one in two men and four in 10 women.

QNike is the brand most as­so­ci­ated with the game in Ire­land, ref lect­ing su­per­star Rory McIl­roy’s inf lu­ence, while one in 10 named a sports­wear brand.

One in five re­spon­dents cited an Ir­ish Open spon­sor – ei­ther past or present – with legacy brands Mur­phy’s and Nis­san still re­called. As a spec­ta­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, a golf tour­na­ment can be a big day out which fo­cuses the minds of spon­sors on event ex­pe­ri­ences like f loat­ing cars at PGA tour events and park­ing for BMW own­ers at the Ir­ish Open. Fáilte Ire­land will be heart­ened to hear that one in three peo­ple would pre­fer to hol­i­day in Ire­land this sum­mer, an on­line poll for Glan­bia’s Avon­more whipped cream found. The Ring of Kerry and Gal­way city are the top choices.

For over­seas trav­ellers, Lake Como in Italy and Honolulu in Hawaii are favoured destinations.

As to the big sports events peo­ple will watch on TV this sum­mer, the Rio Olympics is num­ber one, fol­lowed by the Euros and Wim­ble­don. RTE pre­sen­ter Kathryn Thomas and Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Michael Fass­ben­der were voted Ire­land’s two favourite celebs to share straw­ber­ries and cream with this sum­mer.

QMichael Cullen is ed­i­tor of Mar­ket­ cullen@ mar­ket­

Gary Dis­ley of Eir Busi­ness, one of the Ir­ish Open spon­sors, as the K Club event tees off

RTE pre­sen­ter Kathryn Thomas a pop­u­lar meal part­ner

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