The power of the political AD spend

GE13IT may not be too subtle a method but the airwaves are now being inundated with a plethora of advertising, some of it quite innovative and therefore quite effective.

The power of both television and radio must be seen as being crucial in shaping the hearts and minds of the uncommitted electorate that some – actually one – political entity has taken to the official airwaves in a big way.

Only this morning I caught one telling me voting for party A is actually no different from wasting your vote for party B. The none-too-subtle message being delivered is that while one may not agree with a certain policy touted by party B, casting your cross for party A is actually no different from ticking for party A.

It remains to be seen how much of a sacrifice such voters are willing to make – is their aversion for one party so great that they do not mind compromising their position on certain issues just to ensure Party B does not win. A bit like cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face?
Regardless of the severity of the facial cosmetic cost such voters are willing to bear, such advertising does resonate with at least one Lembah Pantai voter I spoke to who was rather taken aback at this implications of such “tactical voting”.

So, apparently, the money spent on this 10 seconds of airtime on radio during the morning peak time – just as I was battling the heavy morning Jalan Syed Putra traffic – will become an added variable for consideration come May 5.

So, apart from political parties devoting their energies embarking on nightly ceramahs, it pays for them to divert a portion of their resources towards advertising – radio advertising in this case.

Of course, the media landscape is heavily wedged in favour of the ruling Barisan Nasional but that does not mean the opposition is without its cheerleaders. A certain private station broadcasting in English has shown that it can give the opposing view and that it has been able to go about its business heretofore unmolested. Try doing that in Kim’s North Korea!

Premium positions in the mainstream newspapers have been prominently placing posters espousing the positives of the past administration. It may be seen as an exercise in futility as newpaper-buying habits nowadays mirror the political affiliations of readers willing to shell out a bit of their consumption budget daily – one red top tabloid a day means one mug of teh tarik less to kick-start your morning.

The opposition is not without its own news courier either. Their reach is even more niche and concentrated in areas where opinions are already well set.

It is in the realm of the internet that they are quite free to operate and many a portal have sprung to cater to this new media reality. The proliferation of smart devices is powering this move. Indeed it was the government themselves that subsidized this habit with its monetary incentive to encourage the purchase of smart phones in the current national budget. The mainstream media ignores this trend at their peril.

Should this medium become a big factor in determining which way the internet-powered generation votes , than it is a clear case of biting the hand that once fed!.