India’s largest advertiser is not any brand or organisation, it is the Government of India, and if you add all the state Governments to it, the sheer volume of advertising will be staggering. I am not adding the campaigns that the Government does for tourism or vaccination or cleanliness or any such cause or business. The communication that Governments do for themselves is phenomenal and keeps scores of agencies busy all round the clock.
Despite popular perceptions and some ordinary creative quality, Governments are skilled advertisers. They have a clear idea of what they want to communicate and to who they want to connect with. They craft the message with a good sense of audience, their receptivity and political leanings.
Advertising by definition has to connect with core audience and say one thing. Both these rules are not applicable to Governments. They are not selling a product or a service. Governments are not selling anything; they are showcasing their ability, their acumen, their achievements. They have to showcase a lot, create positive influence and make the audience feel every day that their choice was the correct choice and they should exercise the same choice in the next elections. All this without showing the party symbols. Being everything to everybody is not easy. Being an all-pervasive campaign is not easy. Being able to have multiple subjects where the citizens find what appeals to them by themselves is not easy. The Government ads have a different challenge.
The current regime at the Centre has elevated the art of sarkari advertising to a new level. They haven’t done this by improving the quality or by better art direction or by better copywriting. None of that has changed in the ads. The ads remain plain and information driven.
What they have done is better segmentation. Each subject the Government wants to convey is a campaign. Each subject has its own slogan. Each campaign has the PM posing in the right context. Each campaign also has its hashtag, presumably for digital conversation.
Take the three years of NDA campaign that is going on currently. From GST to Skill India to Swach Bharat, the campaign has many subjects. All the campaigns have been unified using one slogan: Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. This has been the Government’s continuing slogan from the campaign, which transitioned from the BJP election campaign.
What the Government has done is understood the Indian mindset. Success of brands in India is built on sachets, every brand that sells a large pack uses sachet to drive penetration. This is the Government that has driven the messaging in the same way. If you happen to catch a flight from a smaller airport in India (managed by AAAI) you will see boards proclaiming how the Government has ensured that fares have fallen in last three years. This has not been done by any Government ever.
For me, as a communication professional, there are many lessons that Government campaigns do teach me.
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