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Political Brands and The Role Of Marketing in Nigeria

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First of all, let’s pack the definition of ‘political’ so we are on the same page in this article. I am of the opinion that any entity whose opinions or decisions change for the purpose of self preservation, when contexts vary is a political entity.

This means that human beings are basically CONTEXTUAL BEINGS OF BIAS, and while I am willing to approve of a certain artist’s behaviour on stage I may disapprove of another artist’s behaviour on the same stage…as in same exact behaviour. For example I notice I am more willing to forgive a Wizkid gaff than a Burna Boy gaff. This is a bias I have no apologies for. This is as political as it gets.

As human beings, we forgive easily those we love, and find it hard to forgive those we hate or never loved, even for the same offence.

This is why consumers easily forgive certain brands and hold others hostage, even after several public apologies.

In Nigeria, at least some years ago when I last spotted related research documents, Airtel customers are said to be more understanding and forgiving than MTN customers. Now, I don’t have readily available data to prove this, but if you get my premise, you can make sample conjectures of your own.

In this article, when I sue the word ‘political brands’ my focus is on Brands directly involved in State politics or better put, Political governance.

That said, ‘political brands’ are no different from any other service brand, be they PERSONAL BRANDS (such as presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, house of assembly, LGA or LCDA candidates; or APPOINTEES such as ministers, commissioners, ambassadors and sponsors of political candidates); or CORPORATE BRANDS (such as political parties, pressure groups, labour unions, civil rights groups and associations directly or indirectly involved in governance).

Like everyday brands, they also have to live by their Brand Equity, that is, the sum-total value they have built into their brands, be it financial equity (capital, and other assets, including intellectual assets) and perception equity (Goodwill and overall positive share-of-mind).

Like everyday brands, they have to make promises and continuously survive and thrive above competition, by keeping these promises.

This latter part is perhaps where political brands tend to part ways with regular brands, for, many past elections have proven that even when a political brand does not keep its promises, it is able to ensure REPEAT PATRONAGE.

Ah!

What is responsible for this aberration, or what have political brands been able to leverage that everyday brands are not able to leverage as well.

The answer is simple: You can Divide and Rule the Electorate (the voting public) because clusters of voters are ‘paying’ to consume one ‘singular product or brand’, while in the case of an FMCG like Close Up Toothpaste, Indomie Instant Noodles, Netflix or Glo Mobile, consumers make individual choices per head. Five individual consumers can buy five different variants of Close Up Toothpaste, but the same five consumers cannot vote for five different local government chairmen or five different governors. It is one or the other.

Little wonder impunity is the order of the day, and while all brands tend to communicate with their consumers on a daily basis (whether or not via advertising!) aggressive political brand communications is known to commence only a year to elections, in Nigeria.

Until the consumers realise the strength of political brands and find ways to weaken the periodic Divide and Rule strategy of politicians, political advertising will remain a rubber stamp of inner caucus decisions.

The weak ranks of the electorate (be it due to poverty, religious or tribal sentiments) will continue to be weaponised by the ruling political class.

Who will bell the cat?

Is true change in the air?

Boye Adefila is a Marketing Coach/Copycoach & Ghost-writer

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