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Trending in India: Why political parties should not advertise

The barely five-month old ruling party at India’s capital, the Aam Aadmi Party has disappointed its supporters in the Delhi’s political arena, yet again (read: tussle with the Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, internal rift with senior leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav). The ‘goof-ups’ of Aam Aadmi Party have become the talk of the town, quite literally. When I am travelling in the Delhi metro, all I can hear is people talking about problems in the personal family or in the AAP family. But recently, the AAP government made an attempt to regain that faith via the ad campaign route. However, it failed terribly.

Media publications are calling this ad hilarious and equally sexist, and it certainly is. The entire narration during the advertisement is done by a woman who is a homemaker. In the ad film she is comparing the pre- and post-Kejriwal scenario. In the pre-Kejriwal scenario, she used to cry to herself because of the rising prices and the post-Kejriwal scenario she is angered by Kejriwal’s portrayal in the media.

I am afraid the ad makers were trying to over sell Mr Kejriwal as he bought household electricity bills just under INR 1000. The ad also shows an auto rickshaw driver turning on the meter after AAP coming to power. But, I have rarely had that privilege when I am travelling to work in Delhi. Furthermore, the husband is least bothered about the expense as throughout the campaign he is either watching television or sipping tea.

If you are closely following the digital marketing community in India, you must be aware how the ad markers insist on making ads which are close to human lives but in this ad campaign…The plot suggests a middle-class household but the narration by the homemaker breaks my heart . I also find it difficult to believe that the ad slot for this campaign on news channels were sold for INR 1.5 crore at prime time.

Towards the end of the campaign the homemaker continues to justify Mr Kejriwal’s actions and it gives me the feeling that she is praying for her son who is fighting against terrorists for the country (Hey Bhagwan, humare Arvind to salamat rakhna) or he is being bullied by some boys at school. I am not sure if that was the message the AAP was trying to deliver. But we must credit the ad makers for ‘crafting’ an ad campaign without using the physical presence of Mr Kejriwal in the campaign and complying with the Supreme Court’s directive.

Unfortunately for AAP though, the campaign puts Mr Kejriwal in a helpless state and does not show him as a strong leader who can separate Delhi from its problems. Since the appointment of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India, the country has been clamouring for a strong leader who does not come under party pressure, but the ‘muffler man’ of Delhi failed to fit into the profile.

The AAP government is in dire need of a successful advertising campaign but this one seems to have only backfired and puts the party back by 50 years (just like black and white portion of the ad film). India is home to a large number of creative and successful media campaigns which stay with the people for long and they are remembered fondly but this campaign only bring tears to eyes because I was laughing too hard when I saw it. (I urge you to follow the link in case you missed it and wish to share that emotion with me!)