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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The clueless run of Indian National Congress (INS) continues in Uttar Pradesh, even with the Assembly Election 2012 advertising campaign

Why you need to advertise?

1. To make people aware of your product / service / company offerings and get their attention

2. Win and hold their interest

3. Simulate and stimulate their desire

4. Ask for a concrete action

Be it condom or rocket; biscuit or bride, or anything else – the four basic premises of advertising have always remained unchanged.

Big, bigger, biggest pundits, with bald head to ponytail to horsetail; French cut to goatee; six-pack to potbelly; tattoo to tongue prick, might differ and produce infinite number of strategies, plans, puns… and many more things; however what needs to be remained same just remains the same: As.It.Is.

That’s all, that’s it, and that IS reality.

And this reality always sounds as: “What’s in the offer for me?” Period.

As a consumer / customer, you actually get exposed to many brands; many communications; many media, but when it comes to decision and consumption, your single-minded ‘want’, not just need, always IS: “How am I going to be benefited?”

This benefit doesn’t necessarily mean that you should always expect and gain only tangibly perceivable values from it, but it should realistically provide you with an emotional connect, without which you might feel you are lost.

Product, service, company, market-share, segment, category, and blah, blah, and blah… inconsequential, the value offering(s) got to be the key in every brand. Even if the brand is a political party… like Indian National Congress (INS).

In Uttar Pradesh (UP), to fight against and dislodge the Mayawati Govt. in the Assembly Election 2012, Congress has rolled out its first set of advertising campaigns.

The line of positioning of this campaign has been 'Utho, jago aur badlo' (rise, awaken and change), and the party conveys the message with an attempt to communicate that unless one wakes up and votes for development, one can never change his destiny.

In line with that, the communication collaterals have started to shout 'Jawab Hum Denge' (We will give a befitting reply) across Allahabad and other strategic locations in the said state.

Here, as a voter, you know that you need to give a Jawab (a befitting reply / answer) on the voting machine to welcome change for development. But, do you have any idea, what will be those developments; how will they look like; how will they benefit you?

And when Congress is shouting for a change, what is it actually meaning, since every other party calls for such changes for a wide range of developments pre-election, isn’t it?

In that case, how can you call it, a positioning at all, which is simply not offering any UVP (Unique Voting Proposition)??!!

Plus, when the creative rendition of this positioning is getting stemmed out as ‘Jawab hum denge’, what does it mean, actually?

As a voter, of course it’s you only, who’s entitled to give ‘a befitting reply’ in the ballot box. So what’s the big deal in the communications that tell you the same thing, which you know already!

Or, is it Congress trying to say that the party will give a Jawab, if so, then it actually needs to give replies, on many accounts such as: Corruption, Inflation, Employment, and the list goes on.

Given this, politically speaking, Congress should rather give no answer, unless it has a real game plan to counter attack the Anti-corruption craze; an issue, which the party has failed to negotiate with so far. And that too, despite having their young leader Rahul Gandhi in the squad, while Varun Gandhi simply stole the show in the Parliament during the Ramlila of Anna Hazare.

From strategy, as well as creative point of views, the present campaign done by Percept/H has all in it... except any direction or objective.

In fact, if you compare two respective quotes, as mentioned below, by the client i.e. a notable leader of Congress and the agency head, you can easily understand the disconnect and dissonance prevalent in the campaign. Here it goes –

"We wanted to come up with a campaign that questions the governance in the region and ask for change. It is more an emotional campaign, than an aggressive one," says Raj Babbar, Congress leader.

"Who does not want change?" questions Harindra Singh, Vice-chairperson and Managing Director, Percept/H and then adds, “the whole approach adopted for the campaign is aggressive and only a young person like Gandhi can do justice to the words used in the campaign.”

Howz that?

If this is the scene between client (INS) and its incumbent agency (Percept/H), the level of advertising and communications actually requires to ‘rise, awaken and change’ before anyone does so in Uttar Pradesh.

Otherwise, perhaps, only a miracle can save Congress by making people believe that the party really understands things pertaining to consumers / voters / people at large.

In addition, if you take a look at the following slides, you will understand the main icon or mnemonic around which the entire campaign is moving and will be… in the future, has been so loosely done.

To say the least, this hardly qualifies up to any standard, whatsoever, to be called as creative work worth so much of money.

Take a break, and know more about the logo of INS, please read this –

In late 1978, Indira Gandhi came to offer worship in Hemambika Temple along with K.Karunakaran, her then lieutenant in the state, the former Chief Minister of Kerala. Those days, her party or fraction was facing patent troubles on their existing election symbol - The farmer with Oxen - by several dissidents or break-away Congress fractions, after the great election debacle in 1976.

The unique deity - The Hand - of the small Hemambika Temple ignited her creative mind. And the rest is History. The Hand was Congress’ election symbol in the next election in 1980, which brought Indira Gandhi back to the helm of power.

Anyway, now coming back to the point, since the country is India, and moreover, since the state is Uttar Pradesh (UP), where things like Badla (Revenge); Khoon (Blood); Jawab (befitting reply / answer)… work like anything, even today, to some extent following Bollywood and the Salan Khans, and the Dabangg typos, this campaign might also work wonder in favour of Congress.

And if it does so, for advertising and communication business, it will be yet another decomposition of creativity, which’s already been quite palpable, save for a few jobs. Precisely, in the mainstream and conventional media, where ideas have gone down to minus… with executions constantly hitting zero to hundred and above… and in the process making unwanted noise in various award-shows, helping the finger-displays… to create different victory signs complementing incomprehensible yells.

Net-net, Congress’ tryst with a change of destiny that’s been eluding the party since 1989 in UP could only come true... if the magic happens on voting machines. And for that, the party would do better, if it starts creating a new set of communications and keeps its fingers crossed… instead of holding them together firmly to form the punch of any Inquilab or Jawab!

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