DA claims campaign success

2013-04-21 09:00

The DA has claimed that its controversial “Know Your DA” history campaign has won it new fans, although marketing gurus have warned that the party has opened itself to criticism.

Communications manager Gavin Davis said the party was “overwhelmed by the positive response from across the country”.

He said: “People love the message and they learnt things that they had not learnt before.”

He said the party had chosen to run a campaign about the party’s history to “correct the propaganda” the ANC told about the DA’s history, claiming that it was a party of apartheid.

It was one of the campaigns in the run-up to next year’s general elections, with the next one – focussing on policy – coming in June.

But a PR and marketing expert, who has done political campaigns before and who chose to remain anonymous for fear that it might prejudice future campaigns, said the Know Your DA campaign was “not quite so well thought through. The DA is opening itself up for criticism.”

He said if it wanted to have a campaign about history, it should talk about all its history and not just the struggle parts.

“You can’t just scoop out the highlights. You should say: ‘There have been good times and there have been bad times, but we are growing.’ You can’t deny the party’s apartheid involvement, it was there.”

He added: “History is a tricky thing, we all have skeletons in the cupboard. If you open the door and talk about history, people would want to join in the talk.”

He said the results of upcoming by-elections would prove if the message got out.

Another marketing guru, who has previously assisted the ANC with campaigns, said the DA’s planned campaign to compare the ANC government’s acts with the apartheid regime, as reported in the Mail & Guardian on Friday, would not work.

“I don’t think the voters they are trying to target will change their attitude,” he said. “Older people will understand you cannot compare the liberated movement under apartheid. There was no democracy then, oppression and people were living in fear. Today there is freedom of expression, democracy, and freedom that we all enjoy. It is not a policy of the ANC to go out and kill people,” he said.

Younger people, on the other hand, would not understand the significance of the images, so the campaign would not appeal to them either.

Davis, however, denied that this was part of the DA’s planned campaigns. “Someone gave a presentation on it at a meeting in the Western Cape, but that document is not part of our campaign,” he said.

The ANC this week hit out at the DA’s campaign, especially at a poster where former president Nelson Mandela could be seen embracing the late Progressive Party MP Helen Suzman.

View our gallery: The battle for Brand Mandela

Read Gwede Mantashe's response.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said it was unfair to compare Mandela with Suzman, or to “elevate” her to a struggle hero.

“Madiba took pictures with everyone, including (former British prime minister Margaret) Thatcher and (former SA prime minister Hendrik) Verwoerd’s widow (Betty). Does that make those people struggle heroes,” he said.

Mthembu said the ANC would explain its achievements to the population during its campaign, but will never rubbish any person or organisation.

He said the ANC would run a positive elections campaign.

“Our campaign is different. We will not be full of negativity. It will full of messages about delivery and liberation, and where we are. What we have done is to create one South Africa, and that will be our story.”

Mthembu said they had reacted to the DA poster comparing the ANC government with the National Party in power because they wanted to correct the facts.

“If there is anybody who served under apartheid that would be the DA itself. Our people know better, they are not fools. They know who was part of apartheid Parliament,” he said.

He said under ANC rule police officers who killed civilians are held to account, saying that never used to happen in the past.

Action was taken against the police officers who killed Andries Tatane, he said, and the Marikana shooting was part of an independent judicial inquiry.

“Anybody, even those who are babalased, will not venture into this low talk of the DA. You can accuse us of anything, but to accuse of being like the National Party is not just stooping low, it is (also) not factual,” he said.

» This story was updated after first published to add information about the marketing experts quoted.

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