getting a presidentiable to win an election is really no different from getting a mass consumer product to succeed in the market place. the success of a presidentiable is measured by the number of votes he/she gets, mass consumer products are measured by market share. how to get there, political campaigns and brand management teams for mass consumer products use the same principles, apply the same strategies, in many cases execute the same tools and analyze very similar data and research.
the election just like mass consumer marketing is all about two major components – the product and it’s advertising. in the case of political campaigns, the product is the presidentiable while it may be a shampoo or laundry product for a mass consumer product.
advertising is probably the most potent marketing tool for both. we have seen great tv ads for mass consumer products that were able to push the brands to market leadership. same way we have seen great tv ads launched by the presidentiables that pushed them to being at the top of the polls. this is clearly seen in the manny villar campaign where it is very clear that great advertising done since many months ago has pushed his poll ratings from nothing to now a statistical tie with the dominant front runner, noynoy aquino.
market research, specifically consumer research is very important to both political campaigns and mass consumer marketing. mass consumer marketing and political campaigns both seek to persuade the target market, voters for presidentiables and consumers for marketers to buy their “products”. understanding the consumers minds, attitudes and sentiments is most key for both.
polls that SWS and Pulse Asia conduct are very similar to what mass consumer marketers use – they also have market share data, the equivalent of polls. polls is very much like the product tracking research done by mass consumer products.
the aquino campaign we think has committed major blunders in it’s advertising campaign. they are so major that we think it will cost noynoy aquino to lose this election. are they reversible? yes, they are reversible but that very much depends on the aquino advertising team knowing what went wrong and more importantly what to do about it. and equally important, do they have the smarts and the energy to something about it.
these are the advertising blunders of the aquino campaign:
- losing the election by advertising default - that is the bottom line. the aquino campaign’s biggest advertising blunder was what the they did not do, not what they did. aquino had 2 very good tv ads but they needed more ads between those two. they had a huge gap of not airing any new tv ad from the first to the second. in the meantime, villar continued to air new ads and at heavy media weights during the gap of silence the aquino campaign had. villar eventually converted aquino supporters.
- Naivete and ignorance on what to do on the recognition that aquino’s popularity was the halo effect of cory’s death. even the most inexperienced advertising student or the armchair advertising expert know that the dominant ratings aquino got in the polls at the start were mostly due to the “cory effect”, his popularity surging to an astronomical 60% and 47% . they aired their first tv ad (“hindi ka nag-iisa” ) and it was a success. that ad was well done and it very wisely exploited the sentiments of the people. but as in all things “halo effect”, the true advertising expert should know it will fade over time. at that extremely high start point in the polls, fading is inevitable but you do not want is for it to fade at levels too low that you give your opponent the opportunity to rise. not doing anything new at that crucial time seemed to have lulled aquino’s advertising team to over self confidence and probably stunned into inaction coming from the euphoria of tremendous poll results for aquino. what aquino’s advertising team failed to see was that the dominant position aquino had in the polls were not the result of advertising, not the handiwork of the admen of aquino but cory’s. on the other hand, not doing any new ads and aquino’s ad team sleeping on their jobs caused aquino’s decline in the polls.
- aquino was an excellent and easy product to sell, it’s the advertising that failed. at the start, we did say the two most important components in the success in mass consumer marketing are product and advertising. there is no question, aquino is an excellent product that is very easy to sell. aquino’s ad team was lucky that they were being given a product to advertise that already had superior qualities that all the voters wanted. aquino also did not have apparent weaknesses. while his credentials may not exactly match those of his more senior opponents like villar and gordon, the important thing is that aquino had in his pocket this huge built-in superior advantage called “cory magic” and he did not have any obvious or glaring negatives. aquino had the momentum no other candidate had then but his ad team for sleeping on the job failed to exploit it or make something out of it.
- aquino’s advertising team did not know what to do with “cory magic” and was clueless on it’s implications. there are three fatal errors here. first, i think the ad team of aquino’s most fundamental weakness was they did not know what to do with “cory magic”. secondly, they did not know how to use it. and third, because of the two points above, they probably dismissed it as something they really cannot use much. we think aquino’s advertising team took “cory magic” as too literal and they did not bother to draw consumer (voter) insights from it for use in their efforts. they did use “cory magic” in their ads, but they were used incorrectly and too plainly used.
- failure to exploit and make something out of an excellent and superior product in noynoy aquino. in our view, aquino’s advertising team was simply too linear in their approach to advertising. they concentrated too much on too few components that they were unable to see the nuances of the product that they were selling and failed to look at the competitive horizon. on the last point, we doubt if the aquino advertising team has even made a meaningful assessment of competitive advertising.
- total failure on reading and tracking target audience (voters) sentiments. we do not think the aquino campaign used enough consumer or voter research, otherwise they would have been able to know what was happening to their political base. we think it would have been very plain for them to see that voter sentiments were shifting and that aquino’s voter base was being eroded and pirated by villar. the most basic research would have made them see this evolving development.
where is the weakness of the aquino advertising team?
we think aquino’s advertising agency is very creative but we think this same ad agency and most specially aquino’s advertising team are very weak in strategic thinking. any advertising and marketing person will tell you that strategic thinking is at the heart and the engine of any successful advertising campaign. you can have the most creative copywriters but having a poor advertising strategist will make you fail. you need both to succeed. in fact ask any creative team and they will tell you for them to succeed, they need to have good strategic thinkers.
aquino’s ad team is behaving like amateur admen. you can see that very plainly when you contrast aquino’s team efforts versus the villar advertising team.
what is the aquino campaign to do? first order of the day is for the campaign to fire the ad agency and replace its advertising team. aquino will not lose this election because of him, he will lose the election because of bad advertising.
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