The surprise success of newly formed Indian political party – Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) struck the right cord with the youth with its single point agenda of eradicating corruption. The educated youth, which craves to make a difference but has inconspicuous presence in on-ground rallies, vociferously supported the digital storm created by AAP. The party realised the importance of this section of the electorate and campaigned massively to convert the supporters into voters.
Youth recognises power of the fifth E-state
The party’s founder, Arvind Kejriwal, Obama-fied the scene of Indian politics. It also taught the marketing fraternity grand lessons. Right from leadership, communication strategy, marketing techniques, symbolic representation to the widespread digital branding led to its recent success in the Delhi elections. The party has now started campaigning for the General Elections 2014.
Cruising on the impact of the fifth E-state – digital media, the party’s official Facebook page has 13 million likes, while Mr Kejriwal’s official Facebook page has 3 million likes. On Twitter too, the party has close to 3 million followers, while Mr Kejriwal himself has around 1 million followers.
“The digital storm has already created AAP as a national brand. It has positioned itself successfully as a transparent and fearless political entity. The party will now need to adopt smart strategies to resonate itself with national issues,” opines Pratik Gupta, Co-Founder & Director – New Business and Innovations, FoxyMoron, an digital agency in India.
For the youth – An internship for the country
The 2014 General Elections will see 149 million first-time voters. Also, as per official figures, India has close to 165 million internet users. Even though this is a fraction of the total voting population of around 700 million, these are the key amplifiers who are actively engaging in political debates and influencing opinion. AAP strategically aims to target this set, as the youth identifies with the transparent nature of the campaign.
In fact, AAP’s massive digital campaigning to garner volunteers and supporters had the tagline – Would you like to do an internship for the country – a proposition almost every youth identified with.
“Although AAP will be organising rallies across all major constituencies nationally, it will strategically focus on urban pockets in states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil-Nadu. The digital medium has proven to be a great leveller for the brand and it has struck the right cords with the audience with its targeted communication in New Delhi,” says Ashraf Engineer, Vice –President, Content & Insights, MSL Group India.
Delhi – Check. But, national success?
Will brand AAP be emulating its local success nationally? Experts in the digital industry in India examine three strategies that AAP is expected to adopt to resonate its key messaging with the digitally savvy audience.
#1. Highlighting brand differentiation nationally: Brand AAP has quite successfully managed to create differentiation among the clutter. With the single point agenda of wiping out corruption, it had a clear first mover advantage.
When it comes to marketers, they have traditionally found India a challenging marketplace with its vast cultural diversity. Consumers reacting to a trigger in one part of the country is sometimes diametrically opposite to that in another part. So can AAP’s move to go national be treated as an opportunity to tap a larger set of followers, or is it a roadblock entailing tedious customisation of marketing communication?
To be successful at the national level, AAP needs to highlight its brand differentiation, without digressing from the agenda that has proven to win it points. Using the digital medium to ward off negative sentiments should be employed more proactively to its advantage. This can be achieved by deeper engagement over the digital platforms and maintaining transparent and frequent communication. ”So far going by the general buzz there seems to be a lot of ambiguity in the peoples’ minds on the exact impact and rationale of AAP’s decisions. If they can be as successful in communicating the impact and rationale as they have been in declaring the issues in the first place, they stand a much better chance,” adds Vineet Gupta, Managing Partner, 22feet Digital, a digital agency in India.
#2: Keeping key messaging consistent, yet localising impact: The mantra that AAP followed was that of narrating its brand’s story, and not simply pitching it to the audience. The digital platforms provided the biggest opportunity to help achieve this. Each of its engagement campaigns narrated the impact, and not promises. Its official Facebook page’s cover image gets updated regularly with concrete figures denoting the impact it is continuously creating.
However, for it to succeed nationally, it needs to amplify this local success and scale up the same, keeping the key messaging consistent. As in the case with any brand, loyalty and trust can be established only when the consumer sees the value proposition in letting go of its previous choice and adopting a new launch. “With help of the digital medium, targeted communication can be driven. Using digital location based services, social media, AAP can produce a lightbox of the efforts that has been put all across Delhi and use the model-city phenomenon to cite their plan of walk the talk. The proof is what consumers need. Digital has been the greatest tracking mechanism produced since the inception of mankind,” says Arnab Mitra, Co-founder & Managing Director, Liqvd Asia.
#3: Co-creation with stakeholders: AAP co-created its manifesto with the stakeholders involved. It launched 70 different manifestos targeting each constituency in Delhi. It widely used the digital platform to reach out to people and utilise their points of view and demands.
By way of social media and Hangouts, the party made itself available and answerable, thus generating faith in its actions. The brand created separate Facebook pages for different constituencies and treated each with utmost attention. This strategy needs to be emulated nationally to create a larger impact. “As is the case with brands, a pure play digital strategy will need to be coupled largely BTL initiatives, highlighting the personalised touch of brand AAP. Issues beyond the intangible stand of corruption need to be recognised and stressed upon,” says Mr Engineer