Political marketing is a discipline that arises from the combination of political science and marketing, whose object of study are political campaigns, and which is helped by a set of research, planning, management and communication techniques, which They can be used in the design and execution of tactical and strategic actions in political-party campaigns, of an institution, pressure group, civil or business organization, etc., provided that they seek to achieve political ends.
The campaign is composed mainly of three elements: message, money and activism.
The message is a concise statement that says why voters should choose a candidate. The message is one of the most important aspects of a political campaign. In a modern campaign, the message must be carefully created before it is propagated. The largest campaigns will spend large sums of money in focus groups or opinion polls, to find out what message is needed to reach the majority of voters during the campaign.
Funding techniques include meetings between the candidate and large potential donors, direct request by mail to small donors and the "courtship" of interested groups that could end up donating millions.
Finally, activism is represented by human capital, the infantry loyal to the cause, the true believers who will carry the message voluntarily. Usually the campaigns have a leader in charge of making tactical and strategic decisions to make this human force a highly beneficial tool. In very recent times the use of new digital tools in political activism has shown great potential, making it begin to speak of cyberpolitics, as a reality.
Modern political marketing presents three additional characteristics:
- Mediatization: use of the mass media.
- Videopolitics: it is dominated by the image and audiovisual communication tools.
- Cyberpolitics: the use of digital technologies for communication and political mobilization.
The campaign team, which can consist of an inspired individual or a group of experienced professionals, should think about how to communicate the message, raise funds and recruit volunteers. Propaganda is usually limited by law, resources available and often, the imagination of those responsible.
Among the most common propagation techniques are:
- The use of public means of communication, through the electoral strip.
- The means of communication paid: newspapers, television, radio, public roads and, increasingly, the Internet.
- Organize protests, marathons, dissertations or any type of event.
- Write directly to members of the public.
- Tour urban centers, usually small, for short periods of time. This is known in the English-speaking countries as Whistle stop train tour, since commonly (around the 19th century, when the train was expanding and was a symbol of progress) this technique was given in a train journey through small stations where I gave a speech. Currently the term derived to any visit with this objective.
- Highlight the negative or weak points of the competition (negative campaign).
- Distribution of brochures or other similar media.
- Public appearances and door-to-door campaigns, in which gestures of union with the people are usually given.
Political marketing is a complex strategic discipline that combines the transdisciplinary work of various specialists (sociologists, political scientists, social communicators, experts in public opinion, among others.) In three basic levels of planning and execution. The three strategic levels of political marketing are, with their field of action:
- Political strategy (EPo): Design of the political proposal
- Communication strategy (EC): Elaboration of political discourse
- Advertising strategy (EPu): Building the political image
These three levels of strategy must be addressed simultaneously and in coordination. An appropriate systemic approach requires that the "political proposal" (1st strategic level) be translated in terms of "political discourse" (2nd strategic level), and be collected in the form of a "political image" (3rd strategic level).
The key to the system lies in the use of permanent feedback channels that exist between the three levels.
Origins and evolution
Political marketing was born in the mid-twentieth century in the United States. Although its strategic logic recognizes such remote antecedents as the Greek polis and the Roman Empire, in the middle of the 20th century it was the experts in the manipulation of signs who gave the decisive impulse to modern Political Marketing; they were the conditioned reflexes of Pávlov, the fatherly images of Freud, the science of mass trade of Batten, Barton, Dustin and Osborne. In 1952 General Dwight Eisenhower became the first presidential candidate to appeal to the services of an advertising agency, the "BBDO", to take charge of his television campaign. In U.S.A. It was where the rapid expansion of the media sowed the fertile ground for a progressive and constant development of political marketing. A few years later, on television, US electoral campaigns came hand in hand with the "televised debates" of candidates, such as John Kennedy and Richard Nixon (1960).
In 1980 Ronald Reagan and others knew how to enhance their charisma and personal appeal with strong doses of video-politics and mediatization.
In 1988 George Bush and Michael Dukakis turned to image consultants to reinforce their unattractive electoral profiles.
In 1990 Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, Tony Blair and José María Aznar, once again demonstrated the importance of a professional management of the media, especially television, as a tool for the construction and correction of public image. The politician who has used the most in his campaigns of modern political marketing is Bill Clinton ; In addition, he strengthened his popular and seductive image through his permanent participation in television programs aimed at less politicized audiences.
At the end of the century candidates have begun to fully utilize the techniques of political marketing, such as opinion polls, focus group sessions, television spots; image campaigns, telemarketing; advertising commercials, infomercials (combination of commercial and information) and direct marketing.
While in the United States and to a lesser extent in Europe this discipline has several decades of existence and evolution, it could be said that the irruption of political marketing in Latin America in general is a relatively recent phenomenon.
The North American style in the political marketing of the region begins very clearly in 1973 in Venezuela, in the campaign of Carlos Andrés Pérez, who was then advised by the consultant Joe Napolitan. On the other hand, in Argentina, from the Sáenz Peña Law (1912), the political parties began to organize their electoral campaigns without having too sophisticated communication or advertising tools. In 1983, Argentine politics had only incorporated the techniques of modern advertising and marketing tools were practically nonexistent.
The Ibero-American Association of Political Consultants, the Organization of Latin American Political Consultants, are organizations that bring together those engaged in consulting in political marketing as a daily trade in Latin America, among others.
Throughout Latin America, consultants were also created in the 80s and 90s that opened the way for current political consultants.