IMC Campaign of the Month: Bharatiya Janata Party

IMC Campaign of the Month: Bharatiya Janata Party

“Modi Run” mobile app

Welcome to the first in a series of monthly profiles I’ll be posting to highlight great IMC campaigns, both recent and past.

This month we profile one of my favorites – the IMC magic worked by the Bharatiya Janata Party of India. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was formed in 1951 as an “Integral Humanist” party, which basically means the BJP strives to create an economic model (indigenous to India) that places the human at the center of all concerns. BJP’s presence in India is significant – it’s the largest party represented in parliament and the second largest represented in individual states. In 2014 Nahendra Modi won by a landslide with an IMC camapaign that was modeled on an examination of Justin Bieber’s rise to fame and the Gangnam Style video. There’s even a slideshare of the proposed campaign, which is where I found this example initially.

Why did BJP turn to integrated marketing communications? They realized IMC’s power for increased reach and branding through messaging that appeals directly to their target audience. For example in a given election year, that audience includes a significant youth presence, as the BJP aims to motivate youth to vote.  

Recognizing there were problems in the Indian government including corruption, poor attention to infrastructure and security, poor economic oversight and more, the BJP honed its election messaging in on inspiring faith in them throughout India while pointing out the shortcomings of the old government. Their objectives were also to win loyalty through better governance and to inspire people to vote for change.

Some of the strategies the BJP utilized for these goals included rallies (some rallies even had 3D hologram components), animated videos, mobile games and extensive social media marketing. To support the various plans, their tactics also included:

  • Print ads
  • TV ads
  • Campaigns in WhatsApp (mobile messenger)
  • Ringtones
  • YouTube videos
  • Viral memes

…and the creation of a song intended to inspire hope in voters, which was distributed through many online and offline channels.

Their messaging was three-pronged and each of these tactics had a role to play in distributing the messages. First, they had a message of unification – reaching the whole of India as the party that would represent everyone equally. Second, they had a message of negativity toward their political opponents – what they did wrong and why it was wrong. Third, they had a message of positivity, which included the aforementioned song.

What makes the BJP’s campaign such good IMC is not just that they utilized a lot of different channels in harmony, but that they first identified and organized their audiences, and then clearly defined messages to appeal to each demographic. Then, the channels they used to spread that message were tailored to the audience. Appealing to youth through messages in WhatsApp or funny memes is nearly guaranteed success.

They also branded the BJP politicians heavily, such as Prime Minster candidate Narendra Modi, who has his own Facebook page and got his own mobile app (the “Modi Run” game). They hit Facebook and Twitter particularly heavily with relevant hashtags and creative messages, generating more following and positive sentiment than their opponents, overall.

The end result was a near landslide victory for the BJP and BJP allies. As far as IMC results go, you don’t get a much grander or spectacular example than winning a nation!

The takeaway for us as marketers is that it always, always pays to do your homework before creating a strategy, and it’s imperative to have good strategies and tactics in place before you launch a campaign. Failing at one or both means your campaign has no real foundation, and if you manage to succeed, it’ll be dumb luck.

As I explain in my eBook How to Write a Marketing Plan in 15 Minutes a Day, before you can even get to the strategy part, you need to identify your best customer (and next best customer, and next best customer, if you really have diverse demographics). You need to figure out who they are, how they think, what makes them think and how they make their decisions and purchases. Once you have that information, then you need to determine the best ways to reach those customers. At the same time, you have to think about your messaging and how to tailor it specifically for each customer. What you say to a millennial customer and how you say it will be different than a customer from the Baby Boomer generation, for example. And the channels you choose sometimes affect your messaging. While the same key messages apply across the board, a tiny little tweet can only get across so much information, vs. a 60 second TV ad which can explain a lot more.

The BJP party was diligent about doing this research and planning before launching their campaigns. The next time you’re ready to mount an all-out marketing war against your competition, take a page from their book, and make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make educated decisions about strategies and tactics for best results.