Once the dust from the political party nominations settles , the real campaigns will start. This will come with the usual cacophony of political advertising. Several media owners have already adjusted their rate cards to manage what they refer to as "Clutter". Most have upped rate cards by between 50-100 per cent . The "science " is ostensibly about reducing ad numbers. I reserve my views about that.
I project a boring and uninspiring campaign period. For starters, none of the candidates in this election have provided the public with any compelling reasons to wake up and vote. The voter register is evidence of this apathy. It is important to remember that past elections have always had big issues around which the voters wanted decisions. In 2002 the nation wanted to rid itself of a regime, in 2007 the nation wanted a new constitution and fresh leaders, in 2013 the nation looks a bit unsure of what it wants and the leaders are not helping much to determine a cause.
There is a general lack of a cause in most of the political camps and that makes dreary advertising. An agency briefed by any of the competing groups will have a hard time coming up with sexy work as there isn't much that is being peddled. The core message this time seems simple- "VOTE FOR ME". There is a lack of inspiration to the public and a lack of what agencies refer to as USP. A bit like being presented with unbranded commodities and being asked to sell them.
On the other hand, for lacking real issues to push voter inspiration, this could well be the election to be decided by the advertising agency. Creativity and well thought out strategy could be the driver of voter emotion and decision. As the parties themselves are not selling much substance, what the agencies will craft as voter propositions could well be what will determine the positioning of the candidates and subsequent voter decision.
There is a huge corporate discussion on the value of advertising during this frenzy and if it will be worth it for the company brands. Media owners increase of rates for political ads may just dissuade some from the usual orgy of adspend. It is instructive to note the mathematics of election advertising. A typical large rally will cost between Sh2-5 million (Man hours and cost factored ) a typical one week campaign on TV will cost nearly the same. A rally attended by tens of thousands will carry its own media relevance and depending on how the PR around it is managed may be reported days after.
Using consumer level outdoor like wall painting, posters and bus shelters for companies will be frustrating as posters will be placed on every tree , wall and rock. Best to stay away from such media , even worse, budget to replace your wall branding in April.
On TV and Radio , expect the content to be about politics and consider what sort of creative you use for these media. If the politicians use the online medium , expect them to cause inflation as we generally compete for space on the same websites. They will in all likelihood bid each other up and create an increase in the cost of common words as they seek broad audiences. Let's see how this goes , we badly need some inspiration.
Frank is lead consultant at FMC and CEO at mobile agency Sponge .www.spongegroup.com