The Upcoming Elections: From Mass Propaganda to Political Marketing

Over the years it has changed its name countless times. Its use dates back to Roman times and used to convey religious messages. Its original name was “propagare” meaning “To spread, to extend, to be disclosed“. However, the word “propagare” it is also used as a synonym of exaggeration, misrepresentation and abuse; that word in more recent times it´s known as “Propaganda” and although the term has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and hostile examples, propaganda in its original sense was neutral and referred to uses that were generally positive, such as public health references or encouraging people to participate in different activities.

Propaganda. What Does It Mean?

Propaganda as such, means expansion, dissemination, and rapid multiplication. It starts as the inception of an idea, the beginning of something. It consists of launching a series of messages that seeks to influence the value system of citizens and their behavior. We can say that up to this point, propaganda as it has being defined, is not a bad thing; it becomes bad according to the use that the message is given to.

In Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels developed a set of principles for handling propaganda that not only are still valid today, they are being used. The difference resides that, in present times the “propaganda system” has evolved in the use of “ad hoc” techniques which play a key role in decision making…The mix of those techniques today such as marketing, sociology, economics, psychology, statistics and graphic design amongst other disciplines, touches all of us and now the sum of them all are gathered in what is known as “political marketing “.

Nazi propaganda, created and devoped by Joseph Goebbels
Nazi propaganda, created and devoped by Joseph Goebbels

Political Marketing

The essence is exactly the same as in a product. Political candidates and their ideas become a “brand” that is directed to a “market” which in this scenario are called voters, in order to satisfy a “need”, again in this case a “political” need and consequently gain “market share” which is translated in the support for the candidate, his/her ideas in question and ultimately “buy the product” which is the casting of the vote on that specific politician and its platform.

The before said of course it is merely a brief comparison on between the typical marketing of goods and services, and the marketing of a political candidate, however it shares the same, exact  common concept which happens to be one… promotion of the brand.

In order to do so, there is more than extensive use of media either traditional like television, radio, and newspapers, new means of communication such as the internet with the social networks that target large crowds or the nontraditional media such as “BTL” (Below the line) which is the use of non-massive forms of communication, targeting at a very specific market segment for the purposes of informing, reminding, as well as changing attitudes and behavior.

Political marketing consists of several elements, but five are to be considered the main ones:

1. Research and development of/for the brand (in this case the candidate).
It is the starting point. These two activities go hand in hand because as information is collected is enhanced, shaped and structured. Statistics lets you know how the “product” is doing in the market which leads to development, who will seek a better, most effective way to achieve better positioning and reach the goals that have been set.

2. Image.
An extremely important attribute for communication. Studies show that human beings respond more to certain visual stimulus. Some of this lay on how attractive a persona can be, its body language and how inspiring can be to the audience. Speech coaches, personal appearance experts and graphic experts play a very important role. If this cannot be used,  because the person has no noticeable conditions, other points will be sought to strengthen this attribute.

3. Sufficient Economic resources.
Promoting the brand, does not come cheap. Advertising and communication requires money. Television, radio, magazines, internet etc., will be a way to get the message that seeks to position the product/candidate in the mind of the “final consumer” -the voter- and achieve electoral success by receiving the most votes .

4. Activism.
I.e. followers “loyal to the cause”. That people who will propagate the message either voluntarily or by some sort of “compensation”. This people will create the needed “mass” for when a candidate makes its rallies.

5. Use of proven formulas.
The simpler and clearer the massage is, the easiest it is to remember and hang on to it.  Catchy slogans to express feelings of fervor to accentuate certain values that are appealing to the audience ​​and, of course, the promise of something new, or better.

 This is textbook political marketing, nothing new under the sun. It has worked perfectly for Sarah Palin in the United States, Rob Ford in Canada or Ivonne Ortega, former governor of Yucatan, here in Mexico.

The Game Is On!

We have an election coming to Yucatan in the summer of 2015 and eventhou there are registered at least four candidates for the mayor position, two are the main contenders. Nerio Torres for the PRI and Mauricio Vila for the PAN. Both candidates have interesting attributes that appeal to a vast sector of the population. Both are young, promising leaders who want to make a difference and become part of the history of the city of Merida as Mayor.

Nerio Torres Arcila (PRI)
Nerio Torres Arcila (PRI)

The PRI´s candidate, Nerio Torres has had an interesting, solid trajectory, leaving a trail of well done work in the different areas he has led, proving his capabilities. However, his most fierce adversary is not the candidate of the PAN Mauricio Vila who has less experience in politics but he has done good work in the areas he has led as well. No, Nerio Torres, faces a very strong challenge. The bad taste and memories left behind by the former Mayor of Merida Angelica Araujo, who allegedly used public funds for her personal lifestyle, gave away contracts to benefit companies close to her, and was publicly accused of being a “marionette” of former governor Ivonne Ortega.

Mauricio Vila (PAN)
Mauricio Vila (PAN)

Mauricio Vila faces the challenge that his party the PAN, has been a good, solid “opposition” against the excess of the other political factions in the country, but when they had the historical opportunity to make a definite change in the country by winning the elections, not only that did not happened, many cases of corruption and embezzlement came out in the open, staining the name of this “conservative” party.

Both candidates have brought heavy artillery to this struggle for the city. It is mentioned in the political circles that the PAN has contracted Antonio Solá, known for being a great promoter of slander as a political weapon. Solá is a publicist of Spanish nationality known for the construction of the “dirty war” strategies used in the 2006 presidential elections in Mexico. A strategy that according to sources, say the National Action Party (PAN) is resuming in this campaign. On the other side, Nerio Torres is working with different advisors brought from Mexico City to face these attacks.

The political campaigns have just begun and it will be an interesting sociological experiment. The City of Merida is considered the “Jewel in the Crown” nationwide since it has been governed by both, PRI and PAN for different time periods and it will become the main stage of the Federal and State election in Yucatan for the period 2015-2018. Abstention has been a major issue in the past, but just the city of Mérida, which today is governed by Renan Barrera of the PAN, has about 40 percent of the voters in the state.

 In the next election of July 7th, 2015, 131 elected positions will be opened, among which, 15 are of relative majority and 10 of proportional representation at Federal and local levels, 106 new mayors are at stake… one of those, is Merida.


José E. Urioste Palomeque

José Eugenio Palomeque-Urioste is a Business Intelligence professional in the area of ​​Research and Development. He began his training process in mass media writing scripts for radio programs, commercials and advertising campaigns.  Since then, he has written for newspapers, magazines and mass media in Mexico and the United States, ranging from the professional to the editorial and has written 3 fiction novels that have been presented in numerous forums and literary competitions causing much controversy as to its content.



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