About Narendra Modi and BJP
BJP party leader Narendra Modi’s election campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha Polls is a fine example of planning and execution of a successful marketing and branding campaign. Whatever your outlook to politics and political parties in the country, there was no escaping Modi. He was everywhere and overshadowed every other political party in the country.
Positioning a specific leader as the face of the political party is nothing new in India. Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee to name a few have had the distinction. But in each case the individual personalities have never risen above the political parties to which they belonged. In the case of Narendra Modi it is safe to declare that the political campaign made Modi overshadow even the BJP. Brand Modi captured public imagination in a way no other political leader had done before. How did this happen?
Narendra Modi was an important figure for BJP in the 1995 state election campaign and six years later he became the Chief Minister of State. He was serving his 4th consecutive term and during this period and 13 years of service he was praised for his economic policies and the increased economic growth of Gujarat. But, he was also seen as a Hindu nationalist. In June 2013 he was chosen as the Chairman of the national campaign committee after L. K. Advani’s resignation in his favour. From that moment, Narendra Modi became the Centre of BJP’s campaign.
To overcome the following three challenges while projecting Narendra Modi as the country’s next prime minister.
One, the three-time Gujarat chief minister was a regional brand trying to go national.
Two, the 63-year-old was seeking to connect with the youth considering that this year’s election had almost 150 million first-time voters. Modi, who rarely chooses to speak in English, was trying also to connect with the urban, middle-class audience that is becoming more politically conscious.
Finally, and most importantly, he carried the taint of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat.
The one event that, perhaps, helped Modi the most in making a mark on the national scene was the shifting in 2008 of Tata Motors’ factory for the Nano minicar from West Bengal to Gujarat. Farmers in West Bengal, backed by firebrand politician Mamata Banerjee, now the state’s chief minister, had been protesting land acquisition for the plant by Tata Motors. Modi provided the company land and other incentives almost overnight. In the process, he also established himself as a champion for industry and development.
It started in July 2013 with a digital campaign named “Mission 272+”, referring to the number of seats BJP needed for a majority in Parliament. This eventually became an Android App that could be used by BJP supporters to enrol themselves as voters in a BJP database and enlist others too.
Throughout the entire campaign, Modi used his Facebook and Twitter pages.
30+ million likes on his facebook page when last checked. Second only to Barack Obama in terms of fans following politicians. Modi’s Twitter page counts 15.6 Million followers. According to Twitter India, 5 out of the 10 Top Elections Tweets have been sent by Modi, including the victory tweet and the selfie with his mother.
As India is not a small and unpopulated country and Modi needed to reach as much people as he could, he used a new technology that politicians have never used before: 3D holograms.
In this way he’s been capable of holding 100 different rallies around India at the same moment reaching 14 million extra voters. Obviously standing in his studio in the Gandhinagar residence.
Voters could go to this “hologram 3D” rallies to see Narendra Modi’s ‘Avatar’ appearing and talking to them as if he was actually there.
These Virtual rallies were then uploaded to YouTube where thousands of viewers have watched them.
(Trivia: The scale of the project was huge and the challenges to overcome considerable. Indeed, the equipment list alone is staggering: over 30,000 square meters of patented holographic projection foil; 200 Christie 20k and 14k projectors; 400 satellite dishes; 5,500 metres of trusses, 1,300 lights; 500 audio speakers; 200 sound mixers and power amps; and 14,000 metres of speaker and power cables.)
Once his victory was clear and after the famous tweet, the enthusiasm exploded on social media. In order to collect all the good wishes and the supporters’ passion, a “Victory wall” was created. Everyone could share comments by SMS, Tweet or Facebook, and also design their own message. The Victory Wall webpage has been quickly filled with thousands of notes from all over the country and not only, marked with the hashtag #CongratsNaMo.
The great use of digital sources revealed itself as the right strategy for BJP in order to beat the Congress Party led by the Gandhi dynasty.
An early start to the campaign gave the managers enough time to fine tune and change the messaging to keep the audience’s interest alive. It also gave them enough time to ensure that when one message had sunk in, another important message was brought to the fore.
These elections – and in particular this campaign – marked a turning point in the global political communication, and can be only compared with the first Obama’s campaign in 2008, when he started using social networks.
But here we can notice an evolution of what happened in the USA: it is the leader himself that communicate with his supporters, creating a direct link between him and people. Narendra Modi used a simple communication that could be understood by everyone and, at the same time, he leveraged the new social media “language” bringing about the desired result. This brought about the building of brand Modi – from a regional to a national superstar.
Image Source: YouTube
References: businesstoday.in, livemint.com