Marketing Thought

Winning And Political Marketing

Winning and political marketing go together like curry and naan. You can have one without the other but it isn’t ideal. As a former political party Finance Director I would have cried if someone had suggested deliberately not using the best techniques we could to win. (More robust staff would probably have washed the person’s mouth out with soap and water). Winning in political marketing is critical.

I Voted
Don’t Blame Those Trying To Win

Trying To Win Is A Moral Obligation

The vast majority of donors, in the countries I know, are small value contributors. They often don’t have a lot of money, but give to the political campaigns they want to win. A political party thus has a responsibility to spend its money well. It might not be everything, but the main thing that political parties do, and should be, is to try and win elections. Party staff work towards winning and will always aim to use the best techniques available to do so. Winning in political marketing is a moral obligation.

How Do You Stop People Focusing On Winning In Political Marketing?

Some political marketing scholars seem to think there is something wrong with trying to win elections. I guess it might be an interesting discussion whether the world would be improved if party staff were impartial, state-funded public servants. It’d be great fun as the public servants could honestly describe the candidates.
“Our candidate in seat A has a drink problem, seat B’s candidate is nice but woefully ineffectual, and seat C’s candidate really just doesn’t have the intellectual horsepower to do the job.”
Such radical honesty is never going to happen with the current staff. People usually work in politics because they believe in their party. Disapproving of political party staff trying to win elections is like disapproving of gravity. Fun in a quixotic sort of way, but obviously a giant waste of everyone’s time.

Parties Should Use The Best Marketing Techniques They Can

Thus when critics argue that parties shouldn’t use the best marketing techniques they can to win elections my question is: What should we ban and how do we enforce the ban? I actually agree we should ban some techniques, e.g. push polling, but we need more specific arguments than “all marketing is evil”.

Critics are usually vague about their marketing-free ideal political world. For instance, Savigny, after 100 pages attacking marketing in politics says: “It has not been the intention of this book to provide an alternative to political marketing….” (Savigny 2008, page 116). I hate to ask, but shouldn’t that be what a constructive critic does?

Arguing for change has two parts: 1) Does the current situation have problems? 2) How can we change to something better? The answer to the first question is almost always yes. After all, what social system doesn’t have problems? The second question, therefore, isn’t an optional extra but pretty much the entire purpose.

So is the fact that party staff use political marketing techniques in order to win elections bad? Is gravity?

Read: Heather Savigny, The Problem with Political Marketing, 2008, The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc 

Exit mobile version