It used to be campaigns were all about air war and ground war (grassroots). Today, there is a third type known as cyber or digital war.
This column originally appeared in The Manila Times on January 29, 2019.
IN 2004, a candidate’s advertising team proudly claimed that they alone were responsible for making the candidate competitive at rank 4 and taunted the ground team, telling them it’s your turn to show your worth. The rest as they say is history, because political ads are not commercial ads. Elections are won on the ground because conversion is quite personal as Filipino voters are very personal. The science to conversion is derived from awareness and trust ratings. You cannot gain trust in 90 days, while awareness is easier to build in 30 days. Awareness is universal at a minimum of 75 percent. Gauging and monitoring the undecideds is vital so one can put together a strategy to ensure hard votes as base.
It used to be campaigns were all about air war (TV and radio) and ground war (grassroots). Today, there is a third type known as cyber or digital war. Ground war is punishing, considering that the country is an archipelago. Easier to go around Luzon and Mindanao but very hard to move around the Visayas.
“Ground war is the strategic deployment of teams of staffers, volunteers, and paid part-timers who work and canvass block by block, house by house, voter by voter.” Ground war is targeted personal selling.
Mass media advertising has been referred to as the “air war.” Air war is a function of saliency, frequency, timing and most importantly, money. Ground war is management of precious assets: voters. It is organizing, mobilizing and GOTV on EDay.
Political ads have been with us since 2004, and the interpretation on the caps have changed through election cycles. Thanks to Comelec. Still, a candidate who massively buys ad time, pre-campaign, to increase his chances of winning just does not get it. A candidate who puts in P350 million to increase awareness during pre-campaign may cure the defect but could strain conversion when it really matters.
Buying and loading up at pre-campaign also negates gain at the start of the year since everyone cancels out. Messaging is also vital since one cannot just use so many messages that impact and distort a brand.
One cannot be top of mind with wild messages that negates every message used to prime a candidate. A damaged brand is crisis every day. Add convoluted messaging, and traction is compromised.