The marketing aspect of the 2010 campaign
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-05-20

The advent of the John F. Kennedy administration in the United States in 1960 marked the rise of marketing professionals in the world of political campaign organizations. Since the 1960 US presidential campaign, the world recognized the vital role that marketing pros played in political campaign organizations.

The loser of the 1960 US presidential campaign — Richard M. Nixon — was repackaged by marketing pros for the 1968 US presidential elections. This marketing success story of “The new improved Nixon” was the subject of the book by Joe McGinniss titled The Selling of the President.

One of the most interesting points raised by McGinniss in his book was the potency of impression over reason, the soft sell versus the hard sell. The McGinniss thesis was that the rational approach tends to divide the audience into those who will agree and disagree with the proposition. Those who will not agree will likely not vote for the candidate. Those who will agree are also not sure whether they’ll vote for the candidate because there could be other more important considerations.

On the other hand, impression does not assault the target audience. It seduces instead. Impression does not compel the target audience to think, to agree or to disagree. Rather, it is like a soft comfortable mist that simply surrounds the target audience, makes the person feel good and retain a favorable recollection of the candidate.

It was from marketing jargon that the terms position and reposition were derived. When a candidate positions himself, he perches his persona or image on something wholesome and favorable. This enhances salability. When a candidate attempts to reposition his opponent, it is to remove him from his positioning and tag him to something unfavorable. This removes votes from the tagged opponent.

In the just concluded May 10, 2010 elections, the fingerprints of marketing hands were very evident in the many mass communication materials which were all over mass media. Presidential, Vice Presidential and Senatorial candidates were marketed no different from toothpaste, beer, cellular phones and so forth.

As predicted by your Chair Wrecker, soon-to-be President Elect Noynoy Aquino proved to be the dominant brand of the 2010 presidential election. Aquino surged ahead and was never overtaken. The closest his then nearest rival — Senator Manny Villar — ever got was two percentage points behind. Noynoy was like the NBA defending champs LA Lakers, the Colgate toothpaste brand and the San Miguel Beer brand.

My late brother Dicky, an Ateneo classmate of Butch Abad of the Liberal Party, was a horse racing aficionado. It came as no surprise that Dicky died from a heart attack on April 18, 2001 while deliberating on a daily double combination at the Wednesday horse races. In horse racing parlance, Noynoy Aquino would be considered the overwhelming llamado or the outstanding favorite that would have paid perhaps a mere P1.20 for a P1.00 bet.

Quite the opposite of the llamado which Noynoy Aquino turned out to be in the presidential race — Makati Mayor Jojo Binay turned out to be the big dejado or least favored in the vice presidential race. By now, there is little doubt that Jojo Binay won the vice presidential race with just under 500,000 votes unaccounted for and many of these are from Lanao where Binay is considered strong. If the vice presidential contest was a horse race, Binay would have been the P100 to P1 dejado who won.

Binay came from being a poor third in December 2009 to overtake the second placer by April 2010 and then lead the first placer Mar Roxas by 0.2% per the SWS (Social Weather Stations) May 2 - 3 nationwide survey. The upward momentum carried Binay to victory.

Few people knew that Binay’s victory was the result of a two-step marketing strategy. Unlike other candidates who tend to focus their fire on the top candidate, Binay first set his sights on then second placer, Senator Loren Legarda, and paid little attention to Mar Roxas. It’s hard for a third placer to challenge the top market leader. The brands below the market leader are more vulnerable. Binay first dislodged Legarda.

After Binay overtook Legarda, the equation shifted to a choice between Roxas and Binay. And because Binay had a dramatic surge, people now saw the vice presidential race in a different light. Binay’s values as a candidate were seen in a more favorable light — his impressive track record in Makati City, his having emerged from the ranks of the poor, his being a Yellow Army Long Marcher and his consistent opposition to the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime.

Binay showed that he had a superior ground organization, an area where the Liberal Party was weak. Binay won in 14 out of the 17 regions in the country. It was one of the most dramatic come-from-behind victories in Philippine national elections but it only became possible because Binay adopted an effective two-step marketing strategy.

While Jojo Binay was the perfect example of a good marketing strategy that was superbly executed, other candidates became the showcases of basically good marketing strategies that were bungled in planning and execution. As an act of Christian charity, we shall no longer delve into the details of these political Waterloos.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo