Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Big Idea

In the Philippines, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) prohibits premature campaigning. Last year, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago once clarified the rules about the early endorsements. But that was discussed last 2008. Months from now, the 2010 presidential election will happen and that is perhaps, the most anticipated event. I suppose, everyone can sense the air of political campaigns concealed in various advertisements. And since the politicians who seek for presidency have only one year left, I suppose the current advertising tactics are just crafted to become more creative to “sell” themselves.

Traditional media in advertising is expensive yet the use of television as a tool for conveying their hopes of “saving the nation” or maybe, to win the votes of the majority has been the popular medium to execute their strategies for the past years. Remember how the advertisements last senatorial elections bombarded the primetime television? Who could ever forget the tagline, “Itanim sa Senado”?

Now, two of the presidential candidates have been prominent for they have spotted their places in the broadcast media. The commercials they have might be defended as simple advocacies that aim to inform people about the projects they had. Sure, telling people that they have paid for air fares or they know the feeling of being a farmer that is why they can wipe the mud on their shirt is not a criminal offense. Yet, I suppose that these ads are just forms of their marketing strategy to infuse recall and convince their target market that they are the “product” to buy.

Mind you, the presidential candidates are not just the ones who steal the spotlight. Even the incumbent politicians became endorsers of certain services and beauty products. Models and actresses are the usual suspects in the enormous billboards along EDSA but now, even some of the senators are there, invading the outdoor media.

And that’s what interests me – the styles that these candidates perform to inject the idea that they deserve to be our choice. From simple endorsements for a noodle brand, bath soaps and skin treatment centers up to advocacies on how to conserve water, save the earth and help the Overseas Filipino workers, the people who work for these campaigns know various concealed positioning strategies to advertise the aspirants. Maybe, instead of merely focusing on their surnames to be just juxtaposed with vegetables, the aim is innovated into something that goes with the insights of the mass.

Perhaps, the people behind the campaigns can be inspired with Barack Obama’s strategies. I have read in an article of an advertising magazine that he has been dubbed as, “The Digital President” due to his organized use of internet and mobile technology. Some of the direct approach that he did was through email database, mobile database, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter sites where hundreds of thousands followed these accounts. Their inbox is the new wall where information pertinent to Obama are posted.

Digital media here in the Philippines may not be as good as what the U.S. President had used but the mere fact that the message is clear and communication remained open for his supporters is one of the best ideas that I have heard. In advertising, the first thing that is given importance is the market because without them, the products are gibberish. Obama’s followers may have perceived his drive as a fresh and convincing tactic, aside from the fact that he represents what he campaigns for – change.

So maybe, it’s just about the tools used to make the advertisements effective. The product should embody what it stands for. For the candidates, focusing on the “product features” instead of merely concentrating on the product name seems to be the new trend to instill recall to their audiences, yet I suppose this is better than the blatant repetition of names in jingles that do not speak the reason why these candidates should be our pick.

Focusing on ethical perspectives and projects that they have done maybe a mere form of PR; yet from there, people get to know about the things that they have done for the country, which matters most. Because I suppose, it’s not just about the ad placements to reach a broader audience segment. It’s not just about the tie-ups with organizations that advocate ethical perspectives. It’s not just about choosing the most prominent celebrity endorser. It is about highlighting and exemplifying the attributes that serve as their core strength to prove that their names are worthy to take place in our ballots.
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