Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What did AAP do so right that everyone else was left nowhere?

Such an election outcome is sure to evoke a wide range of reactions. The media should thank AAP the most for giving them the fodder to rant and chant for the next may weeks. Arnab Goswami's vocal chords would vibrate precariously. Bloggers and tweeters and whatsappers will spend most of their bandwidth in posting/forwarding pictures of Kejriwal in various avatars.

So what did the AAP do which no one else didn't?

A close look at the events over the past two months will tell us the secret. Actually AAP did everything the BJP did during the 2014 Lok Sabha election and this time BJP did everything that they didn't do last year. What's that? Branding, Branding and Branding.

Modi's rise is actually a product of effective branding. Even the kids were discussing Modi in schools, something which perhaps never happened in the history of Indian politics. BJP's handling of the media and internet was phenomenal. Whatever anyone would read in text-books in the MBA schools was applied perfectly. Whatever it takes to exploit the psychology of the voters across all ages and backgrounds was done. When people start circulating jokes on tag lines used by BJP in their advertisements, you know they have entered into your skin. A good example is the brand Rajni, who despite more flops than hits in the recent past still exists as a myth, thanks to the Rajni jokes which transcend linguistic and regional boundaries. Similar thing happened with the "Aap ki baar" series. Ironically it metamorphosed now into "AAP ki bari".

This time BJPs branding was just horrible, and it became worse with time. Opinion polls in December last year showed a clean sweep in favor of BJP. Between then and now neither did BJP do anything horribly disastrous nor exceptional, either at the center or in Delhi, which could have impacted the people of Delhi in any significant way. But still they lost the election. Why? Just because AAP managed to create a better brand, and that too in the past two months. So it's not true that AAP won because of their freshness, or clean backgrounds, or whatever is being attributed to them. The same AAP, with all their good intentions and cleanliness would have been routed had they not created a better brand. So the election was won or lost not on the basis of any real work.

Negative things don't always work in consumer products, never in politics. BJP lost the 2009 Lok Sabha election to a great extent because of the vicious negative propaganda against Sonia Gandhi. And they won the 2014 election riding on the strong, decisive and positive branding of Modi. They lost the 2015 Delhi election again because of their vicious attack on Kejrwal which made him a slum-dog who had to be millionaire.

Branding heavily depends on rhetoric and oratory skill. No one knew that Kiran Bedi is such a horrible speaker. Modi is popular mainly because of his oratory skills. Rahul Gandhi is flop to a great extent because he can't speak, very much like Kiran Bedi.

Indians always like humble people. Chai wala caught the imagination of a nation and enhanced the Modi brand. A tough cop, who can't speak is a disaster, both as a brand and as an acceptable leader. Add to it the arrogance of the BJP visible everywhere. On the contrary, the muffler man attracted everyone. It suited a humble image, a brand acceptable to a wide range of people.

So if BJP has to bounce back, it has to take care of the branding in the upcoming elections in Punjab, Bihar and Bengal. It has to repeat what it did for 2014 Lok Sabha election, what AAP has done now.

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