The Indian General Elections: An Opportunity to reach a Billion
1 Mar 2019
Events of such large scale are an opportunity for brands to portray their involvement and awareness in the society. Such occasions if leveraged tactfully can be a powerful platform for marketers to connect with their audiences. The widespread adoption of social media on its part has further strengthened the cause by opening new avenues for brands to engage with their audiences effectively and in a scalable fashion. There was probably never a time before this when it was possible to engage an audience of such large numbers – irrespective of their background, age or civic needs — socially and civically, and to derive an opinion on just about anything.
The Indian general election is an event, the scale of which portrays the massive participation and interests of the Indian audience. In 2014, the event involved an electorate of nearly a billion people with votes cast using one million electronic machines. It is thus the perfect opportunity for brands to leverage the rapt attention of billions of voters, show their own participation, and also ensure involvement in the society. This is because brands have the power of influence, and the relevant tools to educate voters and literate the uninterested. Given the strong bond between brands and consumers, an event like the general elections can work wonders when leveraged in the right manner.
Effective marketing sometimes includes touching the raw nerve of audiences, but with respect and dignity. Brands of repute can contribute towards encouraging Indian citizens to remain socially aware and strive for change collectively. However, they must ensure participation regardless of their revenue in an event like the general elections. Apart from the influence they have, the involvement of brands can give the audience a sense of their concern for the society’s welfare and thereby help them gain consumer loyalty.
For instance, Tata Tea kickstarted an entire campaign to instil awareness regarding the importance of elections, and in turn gained goodwill. Their ‘Jaago Re’ campaign started in 2007, targeted younger generations with fierce messages about corruption. The brand strove to persuade voters to use their right to vote, make it count, and in turn, make a difference. It was perhaps one of the first occasions when an Indian brand was so firm and vocal in its socially conscious messaging. The campaign eventually helped register 6 lakh citizens during the 2009 general elections paving the way for more such campaigns as well.
It is imperative that brands stay clear of aligning with parties or broaching subjects like religion or any ideologies or conflicts that can seem insensitive to an audience group. This is because of the divided opinions around an event like the general election. Taking a more diplomatic stance and promoting general goodwill or awareness in a creative and engaging manner can be the key.
The phrase ‘each vote counts’ has and will always remain true. Within their own realm, therefore, brands must encourage employees and individuals in their families to take part in the voting process and contribute to nation-building. The quinquennial event provides an opportunity for citizens to wake up if they are in slumber and make use of their right; because this process will make a significant difference to each person’s life and the nation as a whole.
The general elections are undeniably a crucial part of democracy and governance. The event presents brands with the opportunity to invigorate and harness life-long intimate relationships their audiences. While it is a platform for creating recognition and credibility, it is also a medium where strong yet sensitive messaging would not appear forced like other marketing campaigns. A business is not exclusive of the society and its people. Therefore, brands that can seem relevant to what is happening in the consumer’s life are the ones that people will attach more value to.