Battle of the political brands

2014-04-06 14:00


Brand  leader

Thebe Ikalafeng of the Brand Leadership Group says the ANC’s payoff line, “a good story to tell”, is “a succinct value ­proposition”.

He says the party’s core constituency?– poor and rural people who have benefited from social grants, houses, water and electricity – will readily believe this message.

“Even opposition parties, some of whom vehemently disagree with the ruling party, agree with this message.”

Ikalafeng likened the ANC’s election campaign to giant consumer goods company Unilever. It has a solid machinery and sticks to the basic rules of marketing.

Marketing expert Chris Moerdyk says the system the ANC uses to campaign is the equivalent of political direct marketing. “The ANC has foot soldiers which it deploys to every community to convince people to vote for it. Direct marketing is one of the most effective ways of ­marketing.”

Moerdyk also lauds the party for using celebrities at music festivals – and its youth league for being Twitter savvy – to lure young people.

“Remember, the party has a lot of successes to be proud of. The ANC Youth League understands Twitter better than its seniors.

“Anyway, whoever is able to tap into the youth, whether through social media or any other means, will win the election. Most of our voters are under 30.”

Sylvester Chauke, the chief architect at DNA Brand Architects, says the ANC’s branding and a strong media plan set it apart from the rest of the parties.


Must try harder

Ikalafeng says: “A value proposition must always bring something different that resonates with an identifiable number of people.

“[The DA] has decided not to focus on anybody else but to pick on the ruling party and its record in government. It is not selling its agenda particularly well.

“If the ANC is promising 6 million jobs, don’t promise 8 million without saying how you will deliver those jobs.”

Moerdyk also criticises the DA on this point. “Unfortunately, the DA is telling us it will create jobs without telling us how it will create them.

“In fact, this is an attack on the ANC. It is hammering away at the ruling party to the point of being petty.”

Moerdyk is also critical of the DA’s posters, saying that they are dull and ineffective. “There is not much you can do with a poster. You can either put a person’s face on it or ask voters to vote for your party.

“But it’s highly unlikely that people will vote for a party because they have seen a poster about it.”

The DA earns qualified praise from Moerdyk for its presence on social media.

“Helen Zille has thousands of followers on Twitter. She is excellent on social media. She interacts with people. But she has lost it of late.”  Ikalafeng says none of the three parties is blowing him away online, but the DA is doing much better on social media than the ANC and the EFF.

“Remember that with social media you have to be ­expedient, direct it to the right people and have a broad appeal. “It must be reactive and proactive,” he adds.

The EFF 

Against the odds

Ikalafeng praises the new kids on the block for their niche marketing.

“The EFF has been able to narrow down its target [market] and speak to it. The EFF is doing well, speaking to the young, unemployed and marginalised. That is its focus and it is doing well.”

Moerdyk agrees, saying that the simplest, most tried and tested method of marketing and branding is not to say what you want to say, but what your audience wants to hear.

“Julius Malema looks like he understands his election campaign. He is saying things which his constituency wants to hear, which is really the fundamental ­principle of marketing. He is good at that.”

Chauke says the EFF is “trying”, but its lack of an advertising budget or strategy is plain to see. “The party does not have a solid advertising plan. However, it does have a successful activation plan that mobilises on the ground, which could work in its favour.”

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