VoteTech, Chocolate & Resistance
National elections in Switzerland 2019. When a wave of political party videos emerges in the run-up to the elections that address a national audience via social media micro-targeting in the new format of conscious professional lust, this also magnetizes linguistic strategists.
When the elections suddenly surpass all previous elections in terms of distribution and target group-specific approaches with up to more than 1000 variants of a generic text; using new automation technologies under the term ComTech for article display on the web and on social media, catapults monitoring to new heights with all possible measuring points and brings the associated opportunities for further influence such as comments on comments directly into the realm of communication media experts and agencies which put unprecedented orgies of success in perspective, memories of El Dorado emerge – the national flag flutters more beautifully than ever in the wind..
What a monster substitute, symbolically staging the almost breathless nervousness in ad infinitum format. Remark: Voter turnout at the polls fell steadily from 80% in 1920 to 45.1% in October 2019. The only growth is recorded by the #womeninpolitics.
And when chatbots suddenly deliver information in 24/7 format about the fundamentals of voting rights and obligations to citizens in an automated dialogue, the elections seem to be within reach as a commodity. And if, after the elections as in Switzerland in October 2019, some disillusionment occurs among certain large parties, the KPIs that are believed to have raised expectations and ultimately confused are due for inspection.
A look at the political choice, made in Switzerland. The next look focuses on the adaptation of elections in the marketing area FMCG Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Language and content adaptations and analogies are not new, but sometimes sophisticated messages emerge.
Next: The American ROM
Bucharest 2013, Congress at the Faculty of Business and Administration of the University of Bucharest. The PhD student Roxana Adam grabs my full attention with the incomparable work «Reality of the Resistance to Innovation in the Marketplace».
2011 ROM flag campaign
It was 2011 – 2012 and a dissertation related to resistance to innovation on going. While the term «innovation» seemed antagonistic next by «resistance», a perfect timing marketing campaign «American ROM» showed the non-antagonistic echo of «resistance to innovation».
A Romanian chocolate bar was changing the package design from Romanian flag into American flag, a modular innovation based on Henderson and Clark’s classification (1990).
ROM chocolate bar is associated with Romania and an important trigger is the Romanian flag design on the package. And in this context, imagine the campaign slogan «we replaced the Romanian flag with the American one, so Romanians can shine on too». The challenge of national ego!
> 3:42 Video explainer
The 2011 ROM flag campaign results: 4.000 comments on the campaign websites (www.noulrom.ro + http://www.romautentic.ro); 11.000 members for the cause «We want old Rom back»; 1000 members («Do not buy Rom with the new design»); more than 1.500 friends with «Noul Rom/ Rom Autentic» and 3.000 likes on the fan page «We want back the Authentic Rom». Consumers were provoked and they manifested resistance to the new package design, but the noisy manifestation was definitely the result of the risky marketing campaign that pushed up sensitive emotional buttons.
2019 ROM flag campaign
It is 2019 and ROM tries a new «flag campaign», but this time the campaign was constructive and defending national values. Inspired by Elon Musk tweet, the 2019 ROM flag campaign had 4 posts on the official facebook page (@romautentic.ro) and (like in 2011) a campaign website. The 2019 ROM flag campaign results: approximately 250 reactions (likes & other) on the facebook posts, less than 20 comments and 50 shares. The best achievement of the 2019 campaign in the period September 12 -18, was 2.5K Views of a video post. Compared with the 2011 ROM flag campaign, one could say «such a disaster». Can it be a problem of a negative campaign versus a positive one? Or that, Elon Musk haven’t said nothing offensive and the trigger for the current campaign wasn’t provocative enough? In the end Elon Musk is a very appreciate public figure. Or… just a weak campaign?
2019 ROM – VOT campaign
We are in 2019 and flag is important, but the future is more important and 2019 is an electoral year for many countries, especially for Romanians that in November will vote for presidential elections. Why ROM didn’t thought about this? Surprise, surprise! The 2019 main ROM campaign is related to the elections. The 2019 ROM – VOT campaign started on September 17 – parallel with the 2019 ROM flag on promoting Romanian values, but «undercover».
ROM was «undercover» because the marketing campaign went viral in a new form: a new candidate to Presidential elections (name: Toma Corunt) facebook page was created – the candidate was fictive, but many people didn’t realized it and got angry by the ironic and arrogant messages promoted by Toma Corunt. Some of the fictive electoral campaign messages were:
- «Education for all the people, without money: school of life.»
- «I have plans for the trees. One bed, another table, another wardrobe.»
- «I bring peace to the country. No more clubs open until the morning.»
- «I will build hospitals. Us to be healthy…»
While the most provocative insights where in video messages, such as:
- «I have decided to bring the success into the lives of all Romanians. For… those who live here, of course. Those who left (abroad) are the responsibility of other presidents.»;
- «Roads … well I do it (roads) like in Europe. For those who have cars like in Europe. Look, me for example, with mine (car) I have no problem.»;
- «Education is the basis to me and here I would not change anything. If it worked for me, the little ones have their chances as well. School of life.»;
- «We are the treasure of Europe. Virgin forests, normal forests, ores of all kinds. The time to exploit and take advantage of them has come. It does not seem normal to me to look up in pockets for money, while the trees are shading the Earth unuseful.»;
- «I got tired of seeing sad faces in Romania, we have to enjoy life, be optimistic to be successful.»
…and final slogan: «You need a determined president who will win and make you winners. I win, Romania wins.»
> Toma Corunt Fanpage
All these messages touched sensitive subjects for Romanians: people working abroad for a better standard of living; lack of highways; problems in the medical and education systems; exploiting Romanian resources by other countries… and of course, the actor, interpreting a fictive candidate that looks like «a resume» of the majority of Romanians political figures.
After almost a week, it was revealed that this was a ROM campaign: «Romania will not go forward alone. It (the country) needs us all and especially it needs our presence at the ballot boxes. Toma Corunt has never run for president, nothing recommends him to do so. The intention was, we admit, to upset you a little bit, in order not to get upset afterwards, if you do not vote and someone like Toma Corunt will win the election. Especially for elections, on the ROM chocolate bar it is written VOT.»
The scope of the campaign was to motivate people to vote, therefore avoiding future disappointments as a result of not voting. The campaign was inspired by the 2016 Romanian legislative election turnout (just 39.44%), when the Social Democratic Party obtained the majority (with just approximately 19% votes from those who legally had the right to vote). In the following years (2016 – 2019) many protests against the Party occurred in Romania.
The results of ROM 2019 VOT campaign can be seen easily on the facebook page.
Summing up, the page reached: 9.897 likes and 10.694 followers. The campaign posts registered overall: 24.000 reactions (likes, angry / sad faces etc), while just the main video of the campaign registered 11.000 reactions; 4.300 Comments and 3.700 Shares.
The ComTech and Micro-Targeting hype
In the run-up to the elections, Swiss television is producing a series of articles entitled «Election Campaign – digital». The focus: no social media, no way as a politician into the national government in the capital. For example, when agencies with «Facebook Marketing Partner» status and other certifications can break down openly accessible mountains of data up to chicken nuggets size, we’re talking about micro-targeting.
In short: People from a certain region, with certain professions and training and via their comments and other sources as, for example, mobility-friendly recognisable as a result of their subscription, come as a small or small group to enjoy a message tailored entirely to them. About a specific party or candidate. The flag of the nation and fascination is waving here on the highest mast of the whole country.
The Human Values
The flag. Mood roller coasters from total high to low and up again are no rarity when seeing or perceiving a flag. Fast jubilant cries, aggressive moments and desire for revenge as well. A flag touches our innermost values.
The model (graphic) of Human Depth Levels
1 – mind, concepts, roles
2 – feelings, emotions, images
3 – experiences, imprints, basic patterns
4 – body intelligence, social body, archetypes
5 – space, field perception, existential questions
6 – being, essence, source
Ref: Mack, B. Hrsg. (2001). Core Dynamic: Wege zum Kern. Paderborn: Junfermann
Above all, touching levels 5 and 6 (graphics) always holds the potential of violent yes and no. Linked to this are escalation and de-escalation. This means: In levels 5 and 6, no idioms or platitudes nor rhetorical calming methods help when the situation becomes heated.
If the escalation is part of a desired response or not, not only crisis communication packages are better prepared, but also battleproof knowledge on de-escalation is at hand. Usually, however, not and countless consultants then work at the increased rate through the night.
Human values have to do with the maturity of citizens. Especially at elections we all know stories of escalations after the revelation like preference, fraud, manipulation or other outrageous contents, which have massively boxed or caressed our innermost values. Probably no first experience for us apart from the possible volume in decibel format of a starting airplane.
The pattern of the 2011 campaign «American ROM» and ROM 2019 «VOT» campaign is provoking consumers by: attacking personal beliefs, fear of losing social values, stinging those things that people identifies with… briefly going into «personal» stuff.
Although people seems to become more and more individualists, oriented toward welfare rather than wellbeing, that doesn’t means that are not preoccupied at all by quality of life. Humans are social beings and the ROM campaigns show the belongingness pattern – people tend to have an «inherent» desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. In both campaigns people were noisy when they felt their beliefs were attacked.
Elections are a national action. Whether at the urn or not – every citizen knows about it, forms an opinion and has a point of view on the results. Above all, the apron is developing into a galactic marketing laboratory with increasingly smarter ComTech tools via the web and social media, right into the smartphone. That whets the appetite, demands balanced information and probably shakes the Pandora Box.
The responsibility for using such intensification tools, which challenge the innermost human values like the environment of a national flag, lies with the users. No matter what role you play – maturity is a virtue and a human greatness – undifferentiated participation is associated with risks for all participants at this high pulse.
It is also a fact that the technical possibilities in communication have multiplied with exponential growth. Just now.
About Dr. Roxana Adam
Roxana Adam received the PhD in Economics at 26 years old. She experienced private and public sector, worked in academia and conducted private researches. Currently she works as a Statistician Expert at National Institute of Statistics (Romania) and she is one of the Founding members and President at Strategic Decision Analysis Association. Her main research interest is related to innovation and consumer behavior with focus on behavioral economics, management and marketing.