Pol­i­tics and mar­ket­ing

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - An­dré Bur­nett An­dré Bur­nett is a cre­ative strate­gist who has re­cently de­vel­oped a sincere ap­pre­ci­a­tion for del­e­ga­tion. dre@mu­sein­spires.com

THE WAY I see it, pol­i­tics is re­ally an econ­omy made up of busi­nesses that start off sell­ing ideas, ideals, be­liefs, or some­times just col­lec­tive hys­te­ria.

You could even think of a po­lit­i­cal party as a re­ally old pub­lic busi­ness with a board, CEO and a man­age­ment struc­ture.

Their main job would be mar­ket­ing to the pub­lic to spend their vote, time and sup­port with them so that they can get to per­form their sec­ondary job ... gov­er­nance.

That’s why a politi­cian doesn’t have to be an ex­pert in any field to lead poli­cies, he just needs to know how to se­lect and man­age the ex­perts – just like a great CEO.

The thing is, I don’t think we tend to think of it as mar­ket­ing and con­sump­tion when we hear a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage and de­cide to ac­cept and own it. If we did, we would be more ju­di­cious in our po­lit­i­cal process and a whole lot more cyn­i­cal.

Get­ting elected in a First World coun­try nowa­days re­quires the sin­gu­lar knowl­edge of man­ag­ing your op­tics. It’s not as im­por­tant to per­form as it is to pro­duce, pack­age and place the per­for­mance.

We’re get­ting to that stage in Ja­maica, and the coun­try will be all the bet­ter for it be­cause to­day’s con­sumers are more in­formed than ever, so ev­ery mes­sage will be fact-checked dili­gently and dis­sem­i­nated speed­ily if you are found to be disin­gen­u­ous.

But we’re not there yet, or at least one party isn’t there, while the other has a handy head-start.

When Dr Bar­bara Carby, di­rec­tor of the Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion Cen­tre at UWI, in­ti­mated that the role of the Of­fice of Dis­as­ter Pre­pared­ness and Man­age­ment (ODPEM) was some­what over­shad­owed by the in­put of “politi­cians”, she wasn’t quite met with an over­whelm­ing out­pour­ing of In this photo pro­vided by NBC, Alec Bald­win and Kate McKin­non spoof US pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Donal Trump and Hi­lary Clin­ton in a ‘Satur­day Night Live’ skit aired Oc­to­ber 1, 2016.

vo­cal sup­port, es­pe­cially not from the “ar­tic­u­late mi­nor­ity”.

After all, the Gov­ern­ment had

been show­ered with praise over the han­dling of the al­most­dis­as­ter and ev­ery care­fully

cu­rated tweet, pic­ture or com­ment had been re­leased per­fectly on time.

We are a gen­er­a­tion that craves ac­cess and fre­quency of that ac­cess. You could also ar­gue that the Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) has larger bases on so­cial me­dia than the ODPEM, and, as such, they would be able to dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion more quickly.


The thing is that the JLP is sell­ing op­er­a­tional con­fi­dence and, let’s face it, the ODPEM doesn’t have to face the polls ev­ery few years. Imag­ine miss­ing an op­por­tu­nity to have Min­is­ter Des­mond McKen­zie de­liver a line like this: “While we hope that there will be no fur­ther brushes with weather sys­tems for the rest of the hur­ri­cane sea­son, the coun­try can be as­sured that the Gov­ern­ment will be ready to lead Ja­maica through (any) storm”. That’s gold. It’s the kind of ac­cess that has al­ways been par for the course in most First World coun­tries, but the JLP has beaten the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party to the punch and have cap­tured the in­ter­est and imag­i­na­tion of an in­creas­ingly large seg­ment of in­formed and con­nected vo­cal sup­port­ers.

Plus, be­ing late to the party also means that the PNP has to com­pete on that front while be­ing in op­po­si­tion. That’s a toughie.

But hear­ken­ing back to pol­i­tics in the United States, this cam­paign has been sur­real, as in, I can­not be­lieve that this isn’t a TV show with a re­ally huge au­di­ence with an un­likely pres­i­den­tial can­di­date tak­ing on the es­tab­lish­ment – the es­tab­lish­ment in this case be­ing politi­cians who ac­tu­ally seem to know what they’re talk­ing about.


My the­ory is that Don­ald Trump was hired by Hil­lary Clin­ton as an ac­tor to in­fil­trate the GOP and be­come a can­di­date that even she could beat.

It was when Trump said “bigly” re­peat­edly, that I be­came even more con­vinced that my the­ory holds a lot more wa­ter than the re­al­ity that these two are ac­tu­ally the can­di­dates for pres­i­dency of a coun­try with a whole lot of bombs and un­manned planes to drop bombs. So how did they get this far?

Well, in Clin­ton’s case, she’s a politi­cian play­ing the game as she’s known it. Trump went left­field, well, right-field – but you get the gist. He tai­lored a mes­sage and a per­son­al­ity that was re­ally iden­ti­fi­able to a lot of peo­ple who don’t re­ally get to hear that kind of stuff with­out tun­ing in to Fox News.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to find any­thing cur­rent within the me­dia that doesn’t have a slight Demo­cratic slant. Trump was a prod­uct that deep white Amer­ica could buy al­most with­out think­ing. Trump is a master of be­ing seen, and with each out­landish re­mark or ac­tion be­ing cov­ered by both sides, it’s been a mas­ter­ful con­trol of run­ning a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign for the new era of con­sumers who can’t wait to hear the next true/out­ra­geous/pre­pos­ter­ous state­ment.

What’s the nugget to take from all of this? It’s re­ally that the new con­sumer ex­pects a show. Ev­ery sin­gle event has a lead-up, com­plete cov­er­age from start to fin­ish, and then an after-movie to catch you up on what you missed or what ev­ery­body else is talk­ing about.

Pol­i­tics is no dif­fer­ent in this era. The bet­ter the pro­duc­tion, the bet­ter the rat­ings.



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