Political Campaign for Mr Ashwani Sharma in MCG Elections
This case study discusses in details the journey of Mr. Ashwani Sharma, from being an independent candidate in the MCG elections to his victory in as the Ward Councillor of Ward NO. 19. We also provide, in great details, all the numerous challenges, both ad-hoc and general-purpose, that we faced while handling one of the political campaigns in Delhi & Gurgaon.
We, started devising campaign strategies for Mr. Ashwani Sharma well before in advance, even before the election date for MCG election was announced. At our first meeting, almost two month before the election date, we discussed the role our agency was going to play for the next 2 months, and also deliberated on the scope of Digital and Social Media Marketing for winning the election. It was abundantly clear from the very beginning that Social Media would play a huge role in creating a long-term people engagement and reaching out to the targeted audiences.
We kicked off the campaign with upgrading the existing website and declaring our intention for contesting in the MCG elections. Below is a list of changes we started our campaign with:
- Website upgradation (theme and structure);
- Introduction of a separate blog section;
- Updated the entire website content (more SEO-friendly content)
- Embedded links for Aadhar card, PAN card etc which are of use for voters
After upgrading the website, our next target was to kickstart an aggressive and targeted campaign on Facebook. For that, we needed more engagement and page likes. When we started the campaign, the official Facebook page only had 500 odd likes. We had to increase the Facebook page likes. But things were far from being so simple. We could not just boost our page for more likes. Doing so would have got us more likes, no doubt about it, but the efficacy of such an exercise would have been almost negligible.
The reason for that is twofold: one, merely increasing page likes would have meant nothing for a political campaign. A real engagement and interaction with prospective voters was required. Two, reaching out to the appropriate audience, based on the age and location, was the real goal. The upshot was that we needed to limit our page-boosting activities to the areas around Ward No. 19 and an age group above 18. For achieving the above-mentioned goals, had to find out the location coordinates (Longitude and Latitudes) of the areas around the Ward no. 19 and then pick and choose before boosting even a single page post. By following this effective but time-taking activity, we were able to reach out to the right audience and make an impact in increasing Mr. Ashwani Sharma`s profile.
Some of the important steps we took for Facebook campaign:
- Boosting to the right audience (based on location coordinates of the area);
- Posting 2-3 creatives daily on the Facebook page (related to Gurugram, in general, and Ward No. 19, in particular);
- Taking up relevant issues and create awareness about it (potholes, electricity, illegal vendors, cleanliness, road safety, etc.);
- Boosting both the posts and the page for more and more engagement (only to targeted areas and age groups).
- Messaging and content around real issues with real pictures
Election Mode Approaching and The Manifesto
We were already a month or so into the campaign when the election date was announced. The date was 24th September 2017. We had a tentative idea about the date, but the official announcement made the gravity of the situation pretty clear. The entire team had to utilized since the campaign was entering into the final over of a highly competitive T-20 match. The game was afoot.
The next step was to prepare the election manifesto based on the issues of ward number 19 and demands of the local people. Before getting started on the manifesto, we did an area survey of the war no. 19 and asked the people around it about the problems they face and the what they expect from their ward Councillor. Based on the feedback and after analysing the failures of the incumbent councillor, we started writing the election manifesto. Writing the manifesto was done in keeping the vision of Mr. Ashwani Sharma in mind. We held various consultation meetings with both Mr. Sharma and his election team for making sure that all of us are on the same page and going in the right direction. Keeping all the above-mentioned criteria in mind, our writers, both Hindi and English, started the process of manifesto writing. After much research and deliberations, we wrote the first draft containing all the relevant topics, viz.
- Citizen Safety;
- Improved Civic Amenities;
- Environment Protection;
- Better Governance.
Once we were sure about the tone and language of the manifesto, we set about finishing the final draft, and so we did. In our previous experience of working as a consultant for bigger parties, we did create content which ended up on various news channels. However, writing a manifesto was a fresh task.
Rush of the final days with the Election Symbol
With each passing day, the campaign was becoming more and more intense. By this time, we were also pushing majorly for traditional campaign activities. Since our agency also has expertise in both traditional advertising and marketing, we successfully merged our digital campaign with offline activities. The time was right for going big on both the channels – Digital and Offline- because the election symbols had come out. Since Party candidates could promote their symbols from the very start, it was not possible for us. We only received our election symbol – The Rising Sun – couple of days before the set election date, as is the case with independent candidates. We were really happy and excited with the symbol which was allotted to us since it gelled really well with our campaign strategy – our objective was to bring about a positive change in the current political scenario, a light of new hope.
The clock struck ten past seven in the evening when we received a call from the political team on ground saying that we have received our election symbol. And now, it was our job to put the election symbol on all the campaign material, viz. Manifesto, Promotional Banners, Facebook posts, Website Banners, Vote Appeal Pamphlets, Letterheads, Campaign Envelopes, etc. Our entire team was working extremely hard for finishing the entire designing. After several rounds of calls, discussions, and few bouts of shouting, we put our new design and election symbol on all the campaign material. From the very next day, we started promoting our newly-allocated symbol both on digital media – Facebook, Website, Blogs – and offline platforms – Flex Boards, Pamphlets, Election Manifesto.
Last Day & The Result
On the last day of the campaign, tensions were soaring high and uncertainties were looming large. Though we had run an extremely successful campaign and were almost sure of our victory, but one can never be at peace until the final result come out. Finally, the D day arrived. The date was 24th September 2017 and voting had started at 8 o’clock in the morning. We were coordinating with the on-ground team and asking for updates every other hour. The support was highly visible among the voters and we were getting positive reports from everywhere.
After a long and tiring day deciphering the voters`behaviour and voting trends, the wait was over and the results were out. Mr Ashwani Sharma was declared as the Councillor of Ward No. 19, Municipal Corporation, Gurugram.
What we learned/validated:
Running a full-fledged political campaign was equally exciting and full of new learnings for us, as an agency. For a while, the campaign, in itself, appeared as if, it would keep going on ad infinitum. Few things that we learnt and few things that we already knew but validated:
- Decide well in the advance all the deliverables
- Campaign is about people and that’s what always works
- Candidate should be projected as someone who is easily approachable
- One must start writing the election manifesto in early stages
- Geographical targeting is real and it works
- Create templates for material in advance if you don’t have your symbol yet
- Real pictures and Real issues work far better than fancy designs
- Use social media as a direct medium to connect with voters
- Criticising opponents is not as great as you think (no criticism was made to any party or candidate during entire campaign)
- Be patient with clients – a lot is at stake