My previous column focused on convergence and 2016. Convergence is the fusion of traditional and new media platforms. The point I was trying to make was that a candidate for 2016 cannot just focus on traditional media because of the psychographics of Filipino voters. Traditional media (TV, radio and print) is expensive while new media –Internet, mobile phones, social media such as blogs and micro-blogs like Twitter and Sina Weibo, social networking websites like Facebook, video-sharing sites such as YouTube, and others–are relatively cheap and targeting can be readily planned.
However, the line between traditional media and social media is nowadays blurred, with most ‘traditional’ journalists using the Internet as a key source of information for stories, and many traditional media are creating online editions or transforming into fully multi-media outlets. Traditional media also utilize “citizen journalism” pieces. This is another convergence of content that would strain a communication plan that is too heavy on TV alone.
It used to be that crafting political messages merely concentrate on demographics (Lingayen-Lucena corridor). Demographics is the study of voter population based on factors such as age, race, sex, economic status, level of education, income level and employment, among others. With urbanization and with TV and mobile having universal penetration rate, wise candidates are now shifting towards understanding psychographics. Psychographics is the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria. Psychographics allow a candidate to segment, target and position messages.
Clearly with the lifting by the Supreme Court of the airtime limits, candidates will have to be more scientific in the use of airtime or else end up spending all their budgets for air war. Case studies are aplenty on candidates losing the campaign because of purely air wars or carpet bombardment of messages or materials that do not connect with voters due to bad framing. Technologies abound on message testing such as the use of a Perception Analyzer to study what messages connect with voters and what narratives provide the hook for candidates. Still, candidates do not look into that side of the equation considerably.
The Supreme Court in making permanent the injunction order on Comelec Resolution No. 9615, set the airtime limits of campaign advertisements in counting the aggregate total, not on per television and radio station basis. It should be noted that the High Court earlier struck down a portion of Comelec Resolution No. 9615, as amended by Resolution No. 9631, which imposed on national candidates ‘’aggregate total’’ airing caps of 120 minutes and 180 minutes for television and radio stations, respectively. The same Comelec resolution also imposed on local candidates a 60-minute cap for television advertising and 90-minute cap for radio advertising for all stations and networks.
Further, the SC ruled that the manner by which the Comelec changed the previous regulation from “per station” to “aggregate total” per candidate was arbitrary. It likewise violated the freedom of expression, speech and of the press, and the people’s right to suffrage. It also noted the absence of prior hearing before the adoption of the policy.
Another field in political marketing has yet been coined. This is neuromarketing, which is a new field of marketing research that studies consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. In simple terms, it is marketing to our subconscious. And that is the amygdala working. Amygdala is the integrative center in our brain for emotions, emotional behavior and motivation.
Neuromarketing is the use of a base emotional appeal—love, fear, humor, and anger—and will be more effective than a factual appeal. It suggests that visuals are more readily accepted by the subconscious than words. Remember the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? That’s neuromarketing. So imagine a 2016 where there is less clutter because of visuals only ads. What themes would work to connect with voters? What would voters love (family, country, peace)? Fear (war, future, crime)? And humor (day-to-day events) or anger (corruption, lies, rotten basic services, traffic, etc.) them?
Darryl Howard best summarizes neuromarketing, “strong attractors attract. Weak attractors repel. There is a way to tell the difference. Whether it is the emotion of a TV commercial, a photograph in a print ad, a politicians speech, or the smile of a spokesperson, the strength of the attractor pattern can be measured. There is a method by which the subjective can be measured.”
Truly, as in many things, believability and trust are factors we hold dear in making decisions. So for purposes of the 2016 elections, who do voters believe and trust are critical. These two factors form the base of an excellent communication strategy. And those two factors give any candidate a lift ahead of the herd. Right now, it looks like most are damaged goods.