There are “Intellectual Morons” in this world who now rant that Narendra Modi’s advertising campaign won him the election. In contrast the Congress is blaming their ad agency for its failure. What it shows is that these people haven’t really grasped what advertising does. We’ll get to that part soon.
Ever had a product or service to offer and invited an ad agency to discuss a campaign? Guess what the agency’s first question to you would be? “What’s your budget?” You have no idea because you didn’t put a number to it. So you tell them your plans and explain in great detail what you hope to accomplish. They’ll tell you “this will cost 75 lakhs”. You tell them it’s beyond your reach. So they’ll chop off some media plans and tell you “Okay, we can do it in 50 lakhs”. Then you tell them you didn’t plan on spending 50 lakhs. They will simply ask you “how much exactly do you want to spend”? You tell them 25 lakhs. They will chop of a lot more from media plan and somehow fit it to your budget. Done! Imagine you had to travel from Delhi to Ahmedabad and the cheapest fare by any mode is Rs.200 but you have only Rs.150 in your pocket. What the ad agency is telling you is “It’s okay, instead of Ahmedabad just travel to Ajmer”. You want to go to Ahmedabad but since you have only 150, would you get off at Ajmer or will you get the remaining 50 and travel to your desired destination which is Ahmedabad? You wanted your product to go to a place which costs 75 lakhs but what the agency is indirectly telling you is “It’s alright, since you have only 25 lakhs we will get your product somewhere half-way house, get off at Ajmer”.
If a layman believes advertising sells, there is absolutely nothing wrong in it. But when “Intellectual morons” (IM) try to convince you it was advertising that sold Modi then they deserve an answer. Advertising doesn’t sell. Here’s an IM who thinks BJP bludgeoned its way to a victory with a massive advertising campaign. Bludgeoned? The IM’s name is Jayati Ghosh. Yeah you guessed right, she’s from the hotbed of commies called JNU who is also on the KnowledgeCommission created by the MMS govt. And her garbage naturally finds its honourable place in the Modi-hating house called “The Guardian”. Here’s a pic of her article:
She writes: “This general election in India was almost a test case: just as advertising can make people want a particular brand of soft drink or breakfast cereal, can a massively funded and aggressive media campaign make people choose a particular leader? The answer, sadly, seems to be yes”. You see, that’s why I call her an intellectual moron. If a layman had said this to me I would have said fine but these are IMs running universities and knowledge missions. The rest of her article is the usual hate-Modi, hate-RSS, hate, pogrom, blah blah so I will choose to leave that alone since I have stated in principle that “pigs will find garbage anyway”.
So advertising worked for Modi, is it? But the problem is the Congress is blaming their ad agency Dentsu for its failures. So are these IMs suggesting Modi merely had a better ad agency? TOI reports: “Dentsu cannot be absolved of the blame for the debacle. They not only charged a premium for the creatives, but they also released ads at an abnormally high premium in connivance with various media houses," a senior Congress leader alleged”. Even the blame is mostly about costs and hardly about the content or message. You will find other reports that suggest that Dentsu failed to project Rahul Gandhi as a Youth icon. I’m laughing. What happened when they did come up with some ads? People made parodies of it. Remember “pocket science”?
Advertising is a means of communication. It communicates your message or it communicates the position you hold. It helps create awareness and move more people to an interest in your product. Advertising doesn’t sell. So what sells? In simple terms we call it publicity, word of mouth, referrals and so on. That’s what sells. Good referrals about your product, people telling each other this movie is good or bad, works. Many big budget movies with a huge ad spend don’t succeed. The simple reason is referrals, reviews and word of mouth may not have been good for that movie. No amount of advertising can sell a bad product. Here’s a good graphic explanation of how advertising works and how sales outcomes happen (From: Advertising Doesn't Sell Anything which I recommend for a read also):
At the top left corner I have marked the box which shows what must support advertising. I recall a show that C5M was doing in a small village in UP during the elections. Some of them told her that they deal regularly with people in Surat and how they were earning a lot of money. That their family members were working in Gujarat. They told her how they hear about the good infrastructure, water supply and power supply in Gujarat. They told her how easy it is do business in Gujarat. Now, that is coming from a small town in UP. Are intellectual morons telling us advertising got BJP 71 seats in UP? That there were no referrals, no word of mouth? Nothing? Live in denial and they will make the same mistake again.
Advertising also combats the competition in the market. So if you take Congress as the competition for BJP and Modi then what affected Congress? The adverse impact on advertising is bad publicity, bad referrals, lack of belief in your advertising message and negative word of mouth. A person may have hundreds of comfortable and safe train journeys but one bad journey that has an accident or incident. He or she is likely to tell everyone about that experience. Watch a new movie that you find is good; you aren’t going to scream to the whole world. Watch a bad movie, you’ll tell everyone. You will even tell people “Don’t waste your money on this bogus movie”. Won’t you? That’s who we are. Positive word of mouth and referrals are tougher to get. This is why the extraordinary positive word of mouth for Modi is a spectacular achievement which is being under-rated. The media failed to read and deliberately denied it. It is not advertising alone. It’s his relentless campaign, the acceptance levels of his messages and mass aspirations.
The box at the bottom right corner also explains the reasons for the Congress debacle. They had negative word of mouth, negative referrals from which they had to combat a positive product from Modi. The entire country had their scams and corruption in their minds when they thought about Congress. A paint brand had the line “Whenever you see colour… think of us”. The Congress acquired a similar tagline “Whenever you think corruption… think of us”. That is a bad reputation which mere advertising cannot fight back. Congress may blame their ad agency but deep down they do know what beat them. Advertising doesn’t sell!
The Congress punch-lines were turned into parodies. The Modi punch-line became a mass sing along rhyme. “Twinkle twinkle little star… Ab ki baar, Modi Sarkaar”. Thousands of such rhymes became popular. This is not the work of an ad agency; this is mass purchase of a message through word of mouth. One may try to create a “positioning” in people’s minds through marketing but people are not fools. People create the “positioning” that they see the product as. RahulG became “Pappu” and that became his positioning in people’s mind. To counter it the Congress called Modi “Feku” but the Feku tag did not stick because it was not backed by real perception whereas Pappu stuck because people perceived RahulG to be Pappu. Perceptions play a big role in the market place. Perceptions drive purchases too. Modi’s message was largely “Vikas”; what was SoniaG’s message? Zeher ki Kheti? Secularism? She learned nothing from “Maut ka Saudagar” it seems. Constantly rubbishing another product generates more interest in that product and if it happens to be good then people end up buying it. Which idiots write speeches for Sonia and Rahul? They should review that.
Our media is not filled with bright people. Most of them are Sagarikas. Till the last leg of the election they were debating nonsense like Mrs Vadra’s “Choohe” and “Joan of Arc” type nonsense and other utterances of silly politicians as if those decide election outcomes. The media morons too have no connection with people. They are like Jayati Ghosh, the JNU’s intellectual moron.
One of the key aspects of a market battle is that your competitor puts you out of the consumer’s mind space. “Out of mind = Out of business”. The Congress, its clones and all the intellectual morons who harped on secularism, polarisation, divisive and so on had gone “out of mind” of voters. That’s why they went out of business and BJP scored a clear majority. Advertising doesn’t sell! Don’t let any intellectual moron ever tell you that.