Of Narendra Modi & his brandwagon

Written by Alokananda Chakraborty | New Delhi, Dec 23 | Updated: Dec 24 2007, 07:06am hrs
In the run-up to Election 2007 in the state, scores of BJP candidates paraded the streets of Gujarat dressed up like their chief minister, mask and all, posing gallantly before television cameras.

Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi, in the meanwhile, went about the job of wooing his target audiencethe constituency of Gujarat, if you pleaselike a pro, getting his smiling, and sometimes thoughtful, face splashed across print ads, bus shelters, hoarding, wall paintings et al.

Of course, the CM understands the value of presentation. It is said that Modi grooms himself before public appearances and for regular photo sessions and cherry picks the snaps that appear in the media.

Mind you, this is not a chronicle of Narendra Modis successes and failures as a party cadre or a comment on his role as the chief minister of the westernmost, and of course, the most industrialised state of India. But as Modi prepares to return to the CMs office third time in a row, it is noteworthy how his skillful management and attention to detail helped this once back-room party operator to metamorphose into a larger-than-life brand.

If nothing else, the cola giants can take a lesson or two on how to fight negative pressModis complicity in the 2002 Gujarat violence is among the most debated political issues of the day with rhetoric, and still emerge with their brand equity intact, says a marketing executive associated with the launch of Parles Frooti.

In a way, this election was positioned as referendum on the personality of one person, says a Delhi-based agency hand, who has worked closed closely with BJPs India Shining campaign of 2003-04.

If you go through the campaign material, you will see the voters were asked to either support the leadership of Modi or turn it down. (Remember George Bushs 2001 speech where he said,

You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror)

That is not all. If media reports are anything to go by, every decision regarding the pollsright from who gets the ticket to how the media campaign ought to be rolled outis said to have been chalked out by Modi.

The 57-year-old chief minister went online and even disseminated his message through the mobile phone, clearly targeting the youth.

Little wonder, BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad described the victory as "a win of the entire BJP of which Modi is the Man of the Match. To extend the logic, even the party machinery or the outfit overall has come to identify itself with one of its power brands, says the agency executive. In other words, Modi is no longer the sub-brand. He is the mother brand.

And thats something every brand aspires to.