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There is a fundamental difference in the application of Content Marketing for business and politics. In the case of the former, a non-branded input acts as the stimulus while brand adoption is the desired response. In the case of the latter, most pieces of content come under the banner of the party, so apparently not a neutral origin, losing the potential credibility of their commercial equivalents.

The only exception to the above construct is mass media, especially television and to a lesser extent print. It is plainly apparent that while some channels are a source of rich content for the ruling party, others are a peer in the case of the primary opposition—every other channel demonstrating a specific leaning. Through the debates and the virulent stands of the moderators, the agendas of their favoured ones are pushed relentlessly, attempting to conjure an electorate opinion through daily persuasion. Most certainly, in the case of print also, it is known to work for urban audiences, the rural voter demonstrating higher levels of involvement and reacting to real outcomes, not intellectual pointers. However, this is just the tip of the opportunity, a fundamental set of India insights leading to an imaginative set of opportunities.

The first opportunity lies in the love for drama that our nation relentlessly exhibits, valid across the socio-cultural spectrum. Now, every party will base its campaign on a fixed agenda, ranging from unemployment to economic growth, depending on strategy well-crafted. A no-brainer content opportunity is to create a soap opera around it, customised to regional languages and sentiments. For the BJP, it can well be the ‘Make in India’ ethos while for the Congress it is the rising toll of unemployment, both rich subjects of creative content. These serials will be created with the finest production values, featuring leading actors and directors, to be aired on television, Netflix or Digital media, even mobile phone nuggets potentially a valid opportunity. In every episode, the desired messaging favouring a certain agenda will be delivered, the loop of conviction closed by the paid advertising or campaigning of the party. Top-of-the-line creative content acting as the seemingly-independent harbinger of a specific ideology.

The second opportunity, especially pertaining to digital and mobile media, would be interactive contests and quizzes, based on the chosen agendas. Drawing from the insight of interactivity, driven by formats like KBC and brand promotions being a source of mass appeal. Here too, under the auspices of a neutral platform, awareness would be drawn to the intended influences, a quiz format making the participant own the outcomes. It is well proven that such exercises reinforce the messaging, especially if the answers come from the customer, be it a quiz on development or employment statistics. Mobile phone penetration, especially internet connectivity, is significantly higher than 2014 levels and this can be used efficiently to drive contests, including past events having a bearing on history. The Congress can thus re-hash the drama of the independence while the BJP can similarly reciprocate by insisting on the positive role of their chieftains in our national development.

The third opportunity, plainly obvious, is the application of Haats and Melas for content-based campaigning, such techniques perfected by the forays of HUL and Tata Steel, among others. A special focus on rural audiences, using techniques of interaction that they are well accustomed to, the main agendas being reinforced. It must be noted that this segment of the electorate is involved in great depth with politics of a quality far superior to that of the better-exposed urban audiences. Equally, they are very happy recipients of theatrical stimuli, a blend of the two aspects leading to a stimulating environment for content generation. Which can well be puppet shows, contests of strength, interactive quizzes or musical compositions; set to lyrics that reinforce the desired stance.

The fourth opportunity is merchandising, which includes anthems, clothing and accessories — basically, any opportunity at lovable recognition. Every party deserves an official musical mnemonic, set to lyrics by none other than the genius of Prasoon Joshi or Javed Akhtar, which will play in every rally and paid communication as well. T-shirts, caps, jerseys and the like, which are based on unbranded messaging, can be sold on Amazon, designed with flair by prominent commercial designers, thus giving them contemporary appeal. It can well be stylised imagery of key personalities and prominent events in history that reinforce the credentials of the party. Nothing stops any party from engaging in cool modern accessories, Fitbits or exercise gear, through a bespoke brand which espouses the core values as suitably desired.

In sum, the rules of content marketing in commercial marketing must extend to political marketing, an apparent, though untrue, foundation of neutrality lending to much-needed credibility. This, when amplified through techniques of popular culture, leads to an engaging conversation between the candidate and the voter. Which can well and truly be sealed by paid advertising and campaigning, converting conceptual affiliation to a decisive ballot. Content Marketing, done inspirationally and intelligently, can honestly play a decisive role in the imminent cliff-hanger of 2019.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)