Anil Thakraney: How Brand Thackeray has got devalued

15 Feb,2012

By Anil Thakraney


The Mumbai civic elections are scheduled for tomorrow. No, I shall not vote, I never have and never will. That’s because when I stare at the candidates list, my first thought is to migrate to Qatar or Bangladesh or Yemen. The names are that depressing. But this post isn’t about my allergy to the Indian democracy, it’s about political parties as brands.


In that context, I want to deal with Brand Shiv Sena. Whether the netas like it or not, their parties have to follow the principles of brand management. They have to market their parties, create the right image amongst the target audiences and then nurture that image for a long period of time. And I must say, Thackeray Sr has turned out to be a rather poor brand manager. Either because of old age or because of blind love for his son, he has allowed the Sena brand to depreciate very badly.


Saheb broke the fundamental rule of branding: Stick to your core values. If you deviate from those, it creates serious dissonance in the minds of your consumers.


Brand Shiv Sena’s appeal for all these years has been parochial aggression and exclusivity. Loyal consumers have, for decades, bought into that brand value. Their hardcore fans connect with the ideology of violence and street justice. The moment


Thackeray Sr, the brand custodian, delegated decision making to his son, and looked away when the brand values were being tinkered with, Saheb allowed the brand to move away from its core strengths. His son, the ‘junior’ brand manager, has been talking non-violence, inclusiveness and development. And in the process, he’s converted Brand Shiva Sena into a me-too to Brand Congress and Brand NCP. Thus losing the brand’s only USP, its source of power in the target market.


This massive shift in the positioning has already had a huge impact. The brand appeal has eroded in the last seven years or so, and the vacant slot has been usurped by Brand Raj Thackeray. And therefore I would be very surprised if in the current elections, Brand Shiv Sena’s market share doesn’t erode even further. No rocket science this, it’s basic marketing logic.


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Moral of the story: It’s not enough for political parties to launch election campaigns and run promotional drives. They have to run their parties like brands. Here’s Brand Shiv Sena’s latest promo. Notice how confused, jaded and uninspiring it is.


Good luck to them anyway!


* * *


PS: A bit long, but it’s worth a read. This hilarious incident very accurately describes the state of the media today:

A biker is riding by the zoo inWashington,DCwhen he sees a little girl leaning into the lion’s cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the cuff of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents. The biker jumps off his Harley, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch. The lion, whimpering because of the pain, jumps back letting go of the girl, and the biker brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly.


A reporter has watched the whole event. The reporter addressing the biker says, ‘Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I’ve seen a man do in my whole life.’ The biker replies, ‘Why, it was nothing, really, the lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger and acted as I felt right.’


The reporter says, ‘Well, I’ll make sure this won’t go unnoticed. I’m a journalist, and tomorrow’s paper will have this story on the front page… So, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?’


The biker replies, ‘I’m a US Marine and a Republican.’ The journalist leaves.


The following morning the biker buys the paper to see news of his actions, and reads, on the front page:



The views expressed here (in Para 1) are Anil Thakraney’s and not necessarily those of others in the team. Certainly not mine :-). If you are in an area where there’s polling tomorrow (or in the future), please do go out and vote. – Ed

Post a Comment 

4 responses to “Anil Thakraney: How Brand Thackeray has got devalued”

  1. Shilpa Raheja says:

    The P.S. was outstanding 🙂

  2. Anil, there is nothing wrong in adopting a change for the better. The brand, which you suggest the Shiv Sena should continue with, has lost meaning in the new socio-political scenario.

    People have understood that the Sena campaign for the past few years has no substance and such an political line won’t benefit the party followers at all.

    Their “original agenda” has lost all meaning. The party has also realised this and has come face to face with reality. Hence, the change in the style of functioning and an effort re-brand the party.

    I see nothing wrong in it. Yes, it might take some time before the new image of the party gets registered in the minds of the people. But in the long run, it might do the party good.

  3. MT says:

    The Junior brand manager to trying to re-position the brand – but to no avail. Since the product is lackluster, nothing will really work.

  4. Kaushik Ramchandran says:

    I am sorry to say Mr. Anil Thakraney, but a very poor article coming from a journo of your repute. The fact is that the violence and aggressiveness campaign will not work anymore with Mumbaikars and Udhav Thackeray recognises that. He has tried to hence reform the stand- that he is not successful is a different story.

    The fact is – the Sena cannot come back to power on the same basis they came in 1993…where there were communal riots and the strong stand adopted by the Sena appealed to the fears of the citizens.

    Brand Sena has also gone down due to lack of development..16 years of control in BMC and yet the citys infrastructure is pathetic

    Expected little more research and perspective from your end on this piece.

    Kaushik Ramchandran

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