Business Schools and the Teaching of Political Marketing

Paul Baines, an  academic at Cranfield in the UK, has made the argument that business schools are not utilizing political marketing to its fullest. Few have courses on political marketing despite it being a multi-million dollar sector with a massive social impact. Many of the classic examples of marketing are political — think LBJ’s Daisy commercial or the Saatchi’s “Labour is not working”. Despite this political marketing still isn’t seen as central to the business school mission. He list arguments why business schools should focus more on political marketing, these include:

  • In a world where businesses have to market themselves internally the sort of vision and values common in political marketing can be of great assistance. Employees like firms to have a mission, beyond simply making money, and the ability to articulate a “why” can be found by studying the best political marketers.
  • Furthermore, firms are “also expected to stand up and promote their values externally, to other stakeholders such as government regulators, the media and even the general public” (Baines, 2012). Political marketing can help executives in thinking about, and ultimately articulating, values.
  • He notes that firms are increasingly interacting with government and politics. It would help if business leaders had a clue what they are up to. Sometimes it doesn’t appear that they do.

The most interesting point is the idea that political marketing represents an extension of common macro-economics courses. These often instruct future managers in the basics of politics and the global economy. Political marketing would be an extension because of a critical difference: [Political marketing courses] “would not assume the political environment was uncontrollable” (Baines, 2012). One might wonder whether the world would be a better place if business leaders were a bit less clueless about politics and instead tried to influence the political world more but such a plan would surely help the students being taught to be “much better prepared for the politics of modern-day global markets” (Baines, 2012).

Read: Paul Baines (2012) Political marketing has lessons for business schools, FT Soapbox, November 11, 2012, https://www.ft.com/content/e58afb24-2755-11e2-abcb-00144feabdc0