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Marketing the politicos

To convince people to vote for a party, politicians these days use the same tactics as marketers. They need effective, clear messages that connect.

Published on December 3, 2007

As the election draws near, a new set of campaign posters is coming out with exciting slogans, especially for big political parties like the Democrats, People Power and Chart Thai. With apologies to the others, space is limited.

The latest slogan of the Democrat Party is "99".

No, they're not asking you to tick that number: Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is putting himself across as a decisive and effective politician who can achieve great things in just 99 days.

Why not 100? The glib answer is that the Democrat Party used to be seen as moving at a snail's pace.

We don't say that was true, but (alas!) perception matters in politics, regardless of reality. It was a cliché that Chuan Leekpai in his days as prime minister tended to counsel patience with the proper procedure before he made any decision. So Thaksin Shinawatra came out with his fast-paced image, and the rest is history.

Now, let's see what the People Power Party, the clone of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party, is doing.

And we don't say the PPP is a clone of the Thai Rak Thai for nothing: just compare their logos.

The PPP's has stylised letter patterns with red-and-blue stripes strongly reminiscent of that of its erstwhile forebear.

The PPP stresses in its campaign that "anyone can talk; we can do what

we say", appositely alluding to Abhisit, known as one of the more eloquent politicians.

The PPP also says it will bring back "happiness" to the people. The hype

over the Thai footballers' signings for Manchester City no doubt reminded some voters of the ecstasy they felt when the current owner of that club was at large in Thailand.

Chart Thai is having to rebrand itself and spice up the image of its leader Banharn Silapa-archa. For this it requires help from its younger members. The golden oldie is being sung to a hip-hop beat.

Chart Thai hired Carabao to write it a theme song and opened a trendy Chart Thai Coffee Shop for yuppies to discuss politics in, a far cry from the dingy tea shops of old.

Banharn has brightened up his image too by wearing pink to lighten the mood of voters bowed down by the economic doldrums.

It remains to be seen if these marketing ploys work when those voters cast their ballots. Some may say they are spin-doctor tactics, but at the very least it's good to see political parties trying to attract the voters with cut-outs and billboards instead of bank notes as some did in the past.



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