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Opinion | Jan 22, 2019

Political Marketing And Election Campaigns In Ghana

By Steve Kubate Salifu
Political Marketing And Election Campaigns In Ghana

Ghana has conducted seven successive elections since its return to multiparty democracy in 1992. The victors of these various elections used a number of means to succeed or outweigh their opponents including the use of political marketing and advertising strategies.

In 1996 elections, John Agyekum Kufuor, a lawyer and career politician took over from Adu-Boahen as the presidential candidate of the NPP. He lost the elections in 1996 to Jerry John Rawlings but won that of 2000 on the back of what Mensah (2011) described as a modernized political campaign in the confines of political marketing. Marketing and advertising professionals were utilized in addition to a swathe of policy positions that reflected the demands of the votes as opposed to party ideological positions (Mensah, 2011).

After having lost the 2000 and 2004 elections to John Kufuor, Attah Mills and the NDC adopted a grassroots 'house-to-house' campaign strategy in 2008. After what can perhaps be described as the most fiercely contested election in Ghana's history, Prof. John Evans Attah Mills was declared winner against his closes rival, Nana Akufo Addo.

Subsequently, after losing the 2012 elections to John Mahama and perhaps picking vital lessons from the failed Elections Petition of 2012, Nana Akufo Addo and the NPP implemented a more vibrant political marketing strategy that had its Vice Presidential candidate at the heart of the campaign. The past two decades in Ghana has witnessed an increase in political marketing and advertising. This can largely be attributed to the developments in information and communications technology and the realization of the potent force of the media of mass communication in packaging not only products or goods, but ideas and political parties and their candidates.

Electoral campaigns are undoubtedly marketing actions employed to get votes in elections. They enable parties and their candidates to know how to allocate their resources and develop better knowledge on how and why voters make their choices.

The two major political parties in the fourth Republic, NDC and NPP, are noted to have engaged the services of PR/Advertising /Marketing agencies to develop campaigns for their parties. The Presidential aspirants such as John Dramani Mahama for the National Democratic Congress and Nana Akuffo Addo of the New Patriotic party made use of Marketing, Advertising and PR in their political campaigns. It is worthy to note that political parties marketed their manifestoes to their customers or publics (the electorates) through various media channels such as the radio, newspapers, television and social media.

The political candidates (that is, the “products” who were being marketed by their producers-the political parties) also advertised their qualities and other attributes including their cognate experience and qualifications to persuade the electorate to vote for them.

In doing this, Presidential aspirants and parliamentary hopefuls made use of jingles of memorable songs to accompany their TV and radio advertisements. The case of Nana Akufo Addo's “moving forward and free SHS” and John Mahama's “Mahama paper” and “edey bee keke” songs cannot be simply glossed over without mention.

In election 2016, banners and leaflets were freely used in these political campaigns which featured the advertisement of parties and their political candidates by groups of party faithful. Candidates also utilised various social media tools such as Facebook Live, Twitter hashtags, Instagram, Youtube and Flickr to market their candidates and messages.

The writer Steve Kubate Salifu is a PR and Political Marketing Strategist.

You can contact him through [email protected]

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