From travel portals to online marketplaces and from large corporate conglomerates to smaller startups, the flavour across advertising campaigns this year is about creating social pressure to urge people to go out and vote.
Come May 23rd and a new chapter in the Indian political history will get written. How similar or different would the outcome be from the 2014 or 2009 verdict is speculative, but the journey till May 23rd has been rather unique this voting season if seen from a marketer’s perspective.
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Brand managers and advertising agencies have come of age. While the days of Bollywood celebrities and cricketers endorsing products are far from numbered, there is a visible shift in brand positioning across established and emerging brands. Examples are aplenty where brands are no longer hard-selling their offerings but rather, influencing their customers to do the right thing. In a way, it seems, brands are on a mission to fulfil their social contracts.
Elections this year have been as much about the usual mudslinging and noisy, chaotic war-cry rallies and sloganeering by political parties, as about brands riding on the political fervour while taking an apolitical, citizen-first stand by creating voter awareness and touching an emotional chord with their consumers.
From travel portals to online marketplaces and from large corporate conglomerates to smaller startups, the flavour across advertising campaigns this year is about creating social pressure to urge people to go out and vote. Marketers drawn from various business verticals are out there lending their muscle to the need to rise to the occasion.
Luggage maker Samsonite’s ‘Travel To Vote’ ad film shows a youth flying into his hometown, Dehradun, on his #EkDinKiChutti to cast his vote, where everything else in life on that one-day-holiday becomes secondary. He has no time to mingle with his family and friends, but he does make the time to cast his vote. The ad ends with this youth telling security personnel who is duty-bound to serve the nation, about his own personal duty towards the nation – of casting his vote.
Fast food major, McDonald’s has released a candidly-shot video where the staff purposely dishes out food items other than what the customers really ordered. Customers get livid when they discover that a wrong item has been handed over, while the staff calmly tells them that they decided what the customer should eat. It draws a parallel with the democratic voting system, bringing out the message, ‘when you give up your vote, you give up your right to choose.’
Online marketplace Flipkart has taken the narrative towards celebrating equality, where every vote, no matter who has cast it, carries equal weight. It also plays on the thought that voting is not about just ‘showing the finger’ with the indelible ink but rather, changing the orientation of the very finger and bringing the community together by joining two fingers to make the mathematical ‘equal to’ sign. The film has breached 10 million views within two weeks of being uploaded on YouTube.
While the ads cited above are from the more socially suave brands, even smaller companies like Venus Soap that sells its Venus Crème Bar have taken their social contracts rather seriously. #MeraDeshMeriZimmedari is a campaign that has already touched over 8 million views on YouTube, depicts a typical urban middle class family where the husband has fulfilled all his responsibilities like ordering medicines for his father and paying the child’s school fee, but is circumspect on how his one vote would matter, until his wife subtly drives home the point that his vote is not just his right, but his responsibility.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call to the nation to go out and vote across social media and TV channels might not have had the direct impact yet it warranted with the voter turnout after the third phase still hovering in the mid-sixties percentage. But there is no missing the concerted emotional call by corporate brands. This might well have a lasting impact in the minds of the youth – the first time voters – who consume content on social media and OTT platforms.
The best part about this new journey is that the crucial ‘Go out and vote’ message isn’t just another Sarkari pitch. Given that India witnesses elections (states’) around the corner, the good news is that the ecosystem is getting sensitised to promote the need for citizens to vote. A corporate hand here is welcome!
Corporate citizens are pressing the right buttons this election season. The demographic dividend may or may not reflect in turnout this year, but is the country getting more conscious of its obligation? Let’s hope the answer is yes.
Kartik Malhotra is Senior Executive Producer & Editor, Special Projects, Network 18.
First Published: Apr 25, 2019 4:30 PM IST