Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ad Sense

There are two schools of thoughts. One school believes that sad, poignant themes touch people's heart more than happy, frivolous themes while the other school believes just the converse. Then, there are is a 'third front' - which the former two schools consider 'crap' - who don't fall into either of the categories. Their purpose is to make purposeless products (like Ghajini). I won't be talking about these 'third persons'. Sigh. I'll be talking about the former two schools.

The results of the election of the largest democracy is out. And people have given a clear mandate after a really long time. While there are myriad reasons for the winner's victory and runners-up's loss, let's look at the advertizements of the Congress and the BJP.

The advertisements of the Congress were very optimistic. Despite the turmoils which happened almost throughout the last year – inflation, terrorism and recession – the ads wore a positive outlook . Aam Admi ke badhte kadam – reiterated the pro- 'aam admi' stand of congress. Everyone in the advertisement is shown happy. Communal harmony is highlighted with the holi and rakshabandhan.
Congress have another very sell-able thing – their history and legacy. This heritage ad displays the achievements India made under the early Congress – Independence, compilation of the Constitution, Shastri's Jai-jawan-jai-kisan revolution, nationalization of banks. This heritage ad portrays more recent achievements of Congress – telecom/IT revolution under Rajiv Gandhi, Indo-US Nuclear deal, NREGA and Chandrayan under Manmohan Singh/Sonia Gandhi. The Jai Ho ad resonated the sense of achievement of winning Oscars along with the happiness brought in by the schemes of Congress. All other ads like those on – chandrayan, electricity and Rajasthan had a positive/happy feel to them.

On the other hand, the ads by BJP were more about the problems India is facing. The bhay ho ad, which is a parody of Congress' Jai Ho, highlights the unemployment, terrorism and inflation during Congress' reign. The Vijay-Sankalp ad is a very matured symbolic ad which not only hints at the aforementioned problems during congress' reign but also highlights that a strong leader (like L. K. Advani) can solve the problems. The ad in (almost) black and white with strong voice makes it a 'serious' ad as opposed to the fun and happy ads of Congress. The hai-koi ad had a similar though a bit lighter tone. This 'nider-neta', again, sells L. K. Advani as a 'mazboot neta' while attributing unemployment as unfortunate – something which shouldn't have been there while this nidar-neta ad hints at the terrorism.

Now, what's wrong with ad-fights? Cola/soft drink companies have been doing it on Indian Media – Be it 'Do the Dew (of Mountain Dew)'' Vs 'i wanna do (of Sprite)' Or 'Pepsi for young!' Vs 'sweet drink for kids (of Thums Up)'. Even the techies doesn't remain far behind – remember the Mac Vs PC ads? So, it may seem that there is nothing wrong with ad fights. My guess is - it's about Indian psyche. Indians don't like bad-mouthing about others. Now don't give me that look – don't point me to the the umpteen saas-bahu soaps or company/college 'gossips'.

So what we see is that the message in Congress' ad was 'all was great under it's rule' – India has reached great heights under it and it should be select to continue the progress. It doesn't really mention about BJP or the Third Front (Third Front – what's is that, now?) except in this 'one' where it hints at BJP very subtly. BJP, however, highlighted the shortcomings of Congress – its alleged puppet PM. It, kind of, attributes the unemployment, inflation and terrorism – which are global problems – to a weak Congress. This probably didn't strike a chord with people. People seems to be more interested into what you can do as opposed to what wrong other has done. The cheerful tone of the Congress' ad brought in smile to the gloomed faces.

This reminds me of India Shining campaign by the BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections. It was in the same line on which the Congress' ad this time is. BJP portrayed that India is shining, the sensex is surging and there's no miseries anywhere – just like what Congress portrayed. But, BJP's ad didn't work while Congress' did! The content of the ad is as important as the timing, the target audience and the way the ad reaches the target audience. The mood of the audience is also very important. If there is gloom around, the happy-toned ad may do better than the bare-truth.

Well, i know it's all over. And, hopefully, for five years we will not have any Lok Sabha Election. It's not that i am saying i-always-knew-BJP-was-going-to-lose-because-of-their-not-so-happy-ad. I am trying to reason out what could have caused the loss of BJP. There are several other, perhaps, more important reasons to it. Pramod Mahajan could be one. Even, Sam Pitroda, Kanishka Singh, etc could be another. Nevertheless, this post just looks at the whole thing from a different perspective. If these ads were to compete in an ad competition, probably Vijay Sankalp would have won the critics' heart. The fact however remains that BJP lost. As they say - future remains unknown. The predictions, at the end of the day, are just predictions.


abhi May 19, 2009 at 2:53 PM  

Its noteworthy to mention that election campaigns have always been this way. A ruling party can never come back asking for vote on the excuse that the opposition may bring misery if voted to power. Likewise the opposition can never praise the ruling party's effort and still request voters to vote against the ruling party and seek a change.

But yeah, politics being politics cannot be without mudslinging. Just as in UK, Conservatives and Lib. Democrats are now en cashing upon Labour's failure.

Moreover there is a subtle difference on the comparison of election campaigns to that of Mac/PC or Pepsi/Cola. Those Ad-Wars are going around the year focused on market-share which is much volatile. But parliamentary changes comes only once in 5 years.

deicider May 20, 2009 at 7:54 PM  

Hmm India Shining wrpped in a Congress gift wrapper.Dont know what I find more nauseating...the ads or another Congress victory.It has to be the later.Spreading happiness in an era of gloom is indeed good if it reflects what the future holds for us and the Indian populace has reacted to that.After all hope springs eternal.But I remeber one ad where they say who gave us the voting rights at the age of 18,it is congress.This as I remember was a unanimous parliamentary decision and gives as much credit to Congress as the opposition.The use of this information in the ads is most shameful.Well who cares!And what will BJP potray in their ads as happy and good,the godhra riots,the Vijaya Jatra.As much as I support BJP,I cant help but realise that they have made some very stupid mistakes,ones that have and will cause them enough pain in their neck whenever Congress attempts to bring it up.Congress on the other hand can be pardoned for whatever terrorism it has acheived against the country has been covert and shrewdly politically masked.BJP has been more vociferous and hence less fortunate.One can always argue that BJP can show its success in Gujarat but really is that enough,is anything enough to get BJP back to power.The mass of India has oviously decided otherwise.Maybe it needs another ten long years of servility ,of hopelessness,of falling job rates of regression to remind it what a Congress rule means.And if Congress is lucky this time and for our sake I hope it is..."Jai Ho."

Abhishek Poddar May 21, 2009 at 2:52 PM  

The poll results have shown that ppl of india are no fools.they are aware of the facts and figures.So there is no chance of misguiding most of them.INDIA SHINING sounded good but ground reality was opposite but in this case the ground reality and slogan "CONGRESS KA HAATH AAM AADMI KE SAATH" were almost similar.
Having said all that lets hope that the goverment carries on the goodwork they have been doing in the past 4 yrs.

deicider May 21, 2009 at 5:24 PM  

Abhishek really how can I congratulate you for proving that hope springs eternal?!!!!!I really really hope that what you said is true.But unfortunately the ground reality is far removed from what the Congress wants us to believe.Congress doesnot have a clue what a aam admi wants.Do you think that people want to be blown up by terrorists in hotels in Mumbai?
Please find a few notable acheivements of Congress,though these are not my invention or research.Like any good sw engineer I copy pasted.......
Who created Bhindranwale?
Who was responsible for Nellie (Assam) massacre?
Who ordered the IPKF misadventure leading to death of over 1200 Indian soldiers in Sri Lanka?
Who opened the locks at Ram Janmabhoomi?
Who was responsible for the Bofors scam?
Why was Ottavio Quatrocchi never arrested?
Why did the Congress lose about half of Jammu & Kashmir’s land to Pakistan and China?
Why were intelligence reports regarding Chinese aggression in 1962 ignored by the Congress?
Why is the Government silent on recent Chinese incursions into India?
Who has played vote bank politics to allow 15-20 million Bangladeshi invaders into India?
Why did the Congress not try to get Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru released before signing Irwin Pact?
Why did Congress support the British Govt in 1942? Why did they allow another 5 years of slavery?
Why was the Indian army not allowed to flush out Pakistanis from kashmir completely?
Why did Congress Govt embark on a foolish NAM crusade and later spit on it by voting against Iran?
Why did Congress not act along with US and others to curb Chinese aggression of Tibet?
Why are Sino-Indian war documents still secret?
Why did Congress return Lahore without asking for Kashmir in exchange at Tashkent?
Why did the Congress impose emergency?
Why were those responsible for emergency atrocities never charged?

Abhishek Poddar May 21, 2009 at 5:58 PM  

@ deider

dude u got me all rong.i was talkin abt the congress achievemnts in past 5 yrs.for example-THE WAIVER GIVEN TO FARMERS,THE NUKE DEAL,India's strong reaction to Mumbai attacks which compelled Pakistan to act.U have agree on this point dude for sure that effect of recession in INDIA is far less compaired to other countries.Morever the fluctuating OIL price had a very little impact on INDIAN petroleum products. just imagine if the price of petrol would have been increased to Rs 150/litre when crude touched 150 and again reduced to $ 50/barrel when crude crashed to $ 40/barrel.That would have really made the economy unstable.

saurabh May 21, 2009 at 10:41 PM  

Well my friend..you seem to have overemphasized the impact of Ads on the people, to give you a conservative figure.. Media penetration is still somewhat 12%( i mean cnn-ibns , timesnows).

And whether congress did the work or bjp didn't or vice versa is a highly debateble topic.

if you closely follow CNN-ibn they have started a opinion poll regarding the best prime ministerial candidate, probably overlapping those audiences those who watch these adds.
whooping 1.5 lacs people voted BJP and around 85k to congress, so going by that logic it seems that bjp ads had much stronger impact than the congress one.

Saurabh May 22, 2009 at 9:59 AM  

Abhishek Poddar

Congress achievements:
Waiver to farmers:
A message to the farmers, don;t worry stay as inefficient as you can because as congress party, we will waiver your expenses.
Who finally pays: the tax payer.
Instead of making them self reliant, this congress regime has made them dependent on this freebies. I am sorry my friend,i this sort of freebies economics will not let our country go anywhere.

Nuke deal:
Probably you are short of facts.
I will request you to go through 123 Dossier before commenting on it.

Petrol prices:
Congress again killing the basic economics. Raw supply is costier...don't increase the price because we have a vote bank. Pump in cash to suppor it .Who suffers....the tax payers..

deicider May 23, 2009 at 12:22 AM  

Hi Abhishek,I am dudette not a dude!

Tejaswy June 3, 2009 at 12:29 PM  

BJP Lost..i know, i was supporting BJP...I m still shocked...but it will always get worse before it gets better.

Hey i take joy in the face that the Left is out .

Krishna June 22, 2009 at 11:05 AM  

I must say again :-" Good Critical analysis".

Major reasons for Congress Victory:-
1.Rahul Gandhi's campaign.(Congress won 60% of the seats for which Rahul Gandhi Campaigned)
2.BJP negative publicity(Weak prime minister,bhay ho and so on.).

well Inflation,Job cuts,Recession were/are global parameters and India was not an exception.

And as per the mandate ,Indian people admits that congress tried its best to overcome it.

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