Piyush Pandey, Jagdeep Kapoor & Harish Bijoor on what worked for Modi and the BJP

19 May,2014

Piyush Pandey

Harish Bijoor

Jagdeep Kapoor

Even as the final results were coming in, it was clear that one of the many factors why Narendra Modi and the NDA emerged victorious in the General Elections 2014 was the advertising and public relations campaign. Shobhana Nair spoke to Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director for Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia, Harish Bijoor, well-known brand expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc and Jagdeep Kapoor, Brand Guru & CMD, Samsika Marketing to discuss the rise and rise of Brand Modi


So what worked for Brand Modi since last year?

Piyush Pandey: No brand is built in a few months; a brand is built over a period of time. What Mr. Modi has done in the last 10 years has been valuable to him.


Harish Bijoor: Hard work. Very hard work. Add to it the fact that Brand Modi started off the block much before elections were announced. Brand Modi established itself first when it saw Narendra Modi as a hat-trick CM of Gujarat. This image was further boosted with development as a cue. And then came the announcement of Modi as a PM candidate of the BJP. This was decisive and focussed branding. And then kicked in the campaign.


The solus attention on Modi has helped the BJP immensely in this victory. If you remove Modi from the BJP, you will find a huge crevice in terms of the resultant imagery. To that extent, this is a pure Modi win. In many ways, this paves the way for an epochal shift in the way campaigns will be run in this country. The individual will become more important than the party. Parties that hide behind the cloak of group-think will need to think individual personas, American style, in the future.


Jagdeep Kapoor: Brand Modi has been persistent, has been insistent and has been consistent.


Do you think it was smart marketing that gave Mr Modi the comprehensive victory?

Harish Bijoor: Absolutely. Narendra Modi is the ultimate political marketer. He had able support, and he was decisive in the way he managed his campaign. His campaign was a 360-degree campaign that had everyone else watching with awe. The best of product marketing gyaan was brought into this campaign. And it worked. Modi is a product. And this product promised what the people wanted. And in him people saw a strong  and decisive leader, someone who was an anti-thesis of sorts to the persona India was used to in the past decade with Manmohan Singh at the helm of affairs.


Jagdeep Kapoor: Yes. Very big. Because of 3 reasons:

1. He does not need anyone’s help now. Therefore he will only help the country.

2. Despite all the criticism for the last decade, he was clear in his strategy and ruthless in his implementation.

3. He genuinely wants to benefit all Indians, just like he did for all people in Gujarat.


Would you say the BJP’s ad agencies produce great advertising, or at least advertising that worked?

Piyush Pandey: You can only position and market something which is good and based on what the product is all about. Nobody has ever been able to sell a bad product. Nobody can as people are not stupid. So a good product is presented with its attributes and the marketing of the brand which was done by Soho Square is only a presentation of what is good in its intrinsic value.


Harish Bijoor: They did. I love the “Abki Baar Modi Sarkaar line”, as did I love the jingles that captured the need of the people in bundling hope: “Acchhe din aane waale hain…” And media organizations loved the amount of money that was spent in airing all of this for sure.


Jagdeep Kapoor: Their communication and advertising was simply strategic and entered the minds and heart, but more important was the great performance of Brand Modi over the decade, which helped them communicate.


And do you think the Congress loss was caused by bad advertising?

Piyush Pandey: No election is ever won or lost because of advertising. Advertising is only an element. Advertising only presents it. To say that Congress’ advertising was bad will be incorrect. What are you presenting is an issue and to say Soho Square’s advertising was great for Mr Modi will be incorrect too. Soho Square did a great job in interpreting the right side of Mr Modi strategically and creatively. But at the end of the day, advertising doesn’t make you win an election or any product for that matter. With a great product, I can do great marketing. A good product has to be presented properly for that I complement my partner Soho Square. I will conclude by adding “Acche din aane waale hai!”


Harish Bijoor: Not really. In the beginning, it is all about strategy. I do believe the gaps lie in the strategy rather than in the advertising executions. I do believe enough of emphasis on voter insight was not given. The campaign was top-down and ignored the bottom-up possibilities.


Jagdeep Kapoor: Advertising has a limited role. Performance has a major role. Good performance gives good results and vice versa. Brand Modi was able to set a high standard not only in Gujarat, not only in India, but also in the world.


How does Brand Modi not suffer from the same fate as various Opposition/non-Congress governments have in the past?

Harish Bijoor: Brand Modi is beyond it all for now. His assessment will start happening one year from now. And that will be the biggest challenge to tackle. Every single promise needs to be fulfilled. With care, tracking and passion.


Jagdeep Kapoor: In the case of Brand Modi, he’s positive. He focuses on growth proposition and not negative opposition.


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