Campaign India Team
May 06, 2014

How have brands leveraged the 2014 elections?

Ramesh Srivats and Lloyd Mathias speak with Raahil Chopra brands riding the election wave and whether there has been an overkill

(Left) Ramesh Srivats, Founder TenTenTen and Lloyd Mathias, director, GreenBean Ventures
(Left) Ramesh Srivats, Founder TenTenTen and Lloyd Mathias, director, GreenBean Ventures
How have the brands leveraged the 2014 elections in their communication?
Ramesh Srivats (RS): There have been a lot of brands looking to use the elections in communication, but only one or two of them have done it interestingly. Some are just using it to ride the bandwagon and that’s not making their campaigns memorable. 
Lloyd Mathias (LM): A few brands have made a signification association while many more have jumped on tactically. I am surprised  that many brands have fought shy of using the elections - democracy’s largest carnival.  It’s an easily available platform for brand building with a subject that touches the lives of millions - and therefore it’s strange that few brands have picked it.
Would you term it as overkill as one too many brands based their communication around the same topic?
RS: No, overkill has certainly not been an issue. Brands have to tap into popular culture. Right now everyone’s thinking of the elections and the Indian Premier League. So, it only makes sense for brands to be using the elections in communication.
LM: There’s not been an overkill of brands using the elections. On the contrary, I see it as missed opportunity. A lot of brands have got into the election fever and have come up with campaigns, but a bit too late. This was something that could have been built up over time and leveraged much better.
Till when do you see the hysteria carry on? Should brands look to extend their campaigns once the results are announced as well?
RM: I think it should only stay on till the voting period. This is because it’s more about making people aware about citizenship (rights and duties) during the pre-voting period. Once the results are out, it gets more about politics and I don’t think brands should and will take that route. Brands like Amul, will definitely have something post the elections though, but most of them will get out of it.
LM: I don’t believe that riding on the elections should  be a one-off exercise. It needs to be a consistent long term approach. This especially so in a country as vast as India where some elections (State/ municipal/panchayat) are going to take place every six months or so. Also people’s awareness and participation is increasing.
One piece of advice from you for brands using elections as a base of their communication?
RS: There has to be that link to the product. It’s not only for the elections in particular, but for all topical communication. You need to link and communicate that one piece that is unique to your product or product category.
LM: The advice I have would be that the campaigns released for the elections should not be a one-off exercise. Anything that contributes to active citizenry is good and will have a positive rub off on your brand.
Can you list the brands that have successfully and unsuccessfully used the election plot in their campaigns?
RS: Fevicol and Ambuja Cement stand out for me. Ambuja has been memorable, but it may have pushed the boundary a bit.
Bengaluru has a lot of OOH ads, which haven’t been that great.
I liked what Jaago Re has done in the past. They just didn’t talk but enabled and followed through by getting voting registration done. It didn’t fit product, but fit the brand perfectly.
LM:On the positive side – Tata Tea’s Jaago Re campaign; Tata Corporate’s ‘Power of 49’ and Idea Cellular’s Ullu Banaoing come to mind. Fevicol’s campaign has also made news but it’s in its nascent stage to judge it.
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