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Lse Executive Political Campaigning


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One of the lectures I gave at the LSE Executive

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Lse Executive Political Campaigning

  1. 1. LSE Executive Education LSE Enterprise Dr. Carolina MatosMedia and Communications
  2. 2. Set readings Meyer, T. (2002) Media Democracy: How the media colonise politics, Cambridge: Polity, see chapter 3 ‘The process of colonization’ Schmitt-Beck, Rudiger and Farrell, David M. (2002) “Studying political campaigns and their effects” in Do Political Campaigns Matter? Campaign Effects in Elections and Referendums, London: Routledge, p. 1-22 Scammell, M. (1995) Designer Politics Basingstoke: Macmillan, see esp. introduction, p.1-24 Lees-Marshment, Jennifer (2001) “Political parties and political marketing: what is it all about?” in Political Marketing and British Political Parties – The Party’s Just Begun, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p. 1-49
  3. 3. Core debatesHow the media colonise politics (Meyer, 2002)British politics and political marketingChanges in the political system – i.e. decline of civic engagement and voter partisanshipPolitical marketing and some definitions: what is it? (i.e. Scammell, 2000; Lees-Marshment,2001)The incorporation of political marketing to politics: - Political marketing versus propaganda- Political advertising (McNair, 1995)- Shift from citizen to consumer (“citizen consumer”)
  4. 4. Who has more power: the media or politicians?
  5. 5. How the media colonise politicsThomas Meyer argues that politicians have lost some of their authority and now seek to influence adapting to the logic of the mediaThe media are perceived as more powerful - they are not the ones who are controlled by political elites; rather, they are controlling them“…the depoliticized media rules that govern preliminary stage- management in the political theater will in any case necessarily stage the behavior of political actors who are trying to gain access to them. This effect does not pertain primarily to the recipients of media fare, but to the political system itself, although it will eventually….influence the way the public understand politics as well”. (Meyer, 52)
  6. 6. Politicians submitting to the rules of the media Chief perceptions of politics will be what the media choose to portray on their stage To these elites, submission is the way they legitimise their power Mediated mass democracy has had its price –  “From the point when the idea of democracy as popular sovereignty began to attract widespread support, it was inevitable that politics would have to engage the mass media… Thus, in its efforts to cater to the tastes of the mass public, and due to the pressures to stage manage media events, politics itself becomes “politainment or a variant of popular culture” (Meyer, 53).
  7. 7. Risks to democracy and obstacles for real participation Real political process - behind the stage - becomes invisible to wider public Paradox of mass democracies – the dialectic of mediacracy - democratic principles thus guarantee that “information is made available in participation in decision-making as extensive as possible, but …this same process of colonization makes it difficult for the vast majority….to monitor and influence political events in an informed way”, culminating in ordinary citizens feeling more detached politics (Meyer, 56)
  8. 8. Public spaces and the public sphere - a Habermasian perspective“Colonization in this sense thus means the …unconditional surrender of politics…to the logic of the media system. Only in exceptional cases….does the political system insist that the media should portray politics in a way suitable to the public interest.” (58) Main influence here is Habermas and his theory of communicative action, of the colonization of one societal domain by another According to Habermas, this happens when the first succeeds in imposing its own rules on the latter Worries concern the decline of rational argument in the process of consensus-building, and the role played by money and power Success in managing access to the “media stage” lies in the theatricalization of its own performance (72)
  9. 9. UK “stage” politics: from Margaret Thatcher to the re- branding of the Conservatives
  10. 10. Designer Politics (Scammell, 1995; 2000) What can be said of political marketing in Britain? 1) Marketing is entrenched in the political process 2) Does not offer magic solutions for winning elections 3) use of political marketing needs to be closely monitored Initial reluctance of the Left in adopting political marketing: “Labour’s lesson of the 1992 general election was related to the limitations of marketing and the difficulties of changing the party’s images. For a while, it seemed as though marketing was in retreat. Labour’s team of advertising and media advisers, the Shadow Communications Agency (SCA), caught much of the backlash for defeat…”(xiv)
  11. 11. Political marketing as a new form of political engagementDoes not agree with “pessimism” of literature on political marketingPoints to growth in interest of political marketing in the academia; less hostilityDebate today is the ways in which it can stimulate more civic engagement and attract wider groups to the political sphereChanges in political system and rise of educational levels have made voters less predictableAttacks on political marketing seem to imply that a “golden age” of rational political debate existed once
  12. 12. Limits and merits of political marketingPolitical marketing has its limits in its capacity of persuasionScammell points out how voters can be influenced by various factors, mainly socio-economic ones: “…marketing may bring real democratic benefits by improving two way communications between voters and politicians theoretically….allowing both parties and voters to be better informed and make more rational choices” (xv).The mass media are seen as having brought the masses fully into the political process (McNair, 1995)
  13. 13. Margaret Thatcher and marketing techniques in UK/US politics Margaret Thatcher and Reagan (“the New Right”) brought marketing into political sphere Hiring of Saatchi and Saatchi in 1978 by Conservative Party was big news and seen as responsible for their victory in 1979 “Thatcher’s faith in advertising extended most controversially beyond the purely party domain into the realm of government publicity…Thatcherism put advertising on the map” (Scammell, 2) Labour Party slowly began to adopt similar practices (I.e. Peter Mandelson as key figure behind the “velvet revolution”)
  14. 14. Political marketing and some definitions: what is it? According to Scammell, political marketing covers a multitude of activities, including advertising, public relations and any political activity concerned with image and persuasion Problems: a simple political speech might not be considered political marketing, whereas a rally complete with mood music, balloons and flags.. would be (Scammell, 5-6) Lees-Marshment (2001) criticises Scammell and makes a case for the term comprehensive political marketing (CPM) The Chartered Institute of Marketing…defines marketing as: “ those activities performed by individuals…whether profit or non-profit, that enable, facilitate and encourage exchange to take place…(Scammell, 7).
  15. 15. Political marketing versus propaganda and the democratic processCritiques of its impact on the quality of the democratic process: Political marketing can be understood as the commercialisation of politics and the extension of the relations of consumption to the political sphere (McNair, 1995) “The rational citizen of classic liberal theory has become “a consumer of politics and policies….the competing political parties present electors with different policy options in broadly the same way as firms offer rival products to the consumers’ (Greenaway, 1992, 51 in McNair, 1995; 41). Propaganda versus political marketing: “It is a common misconception that marketing equals advertising or propaganda or image or brand-building, even though all these will almost certainly form part of the ‘marketing mix’” (Scammell, 8). Nazism did not borrow marketing techniques from the business community
  16. 16. Changes in the political system and politics as popular culture: rise of leadership, political consultants and advertising* Criticisms is that marketing contributed to the decline of ideological commitments of parties within a Habermasian understanding of the fall of “rational political debate”* Critiques of the decline of the quality of leaders ; shift towards their personality and character (“just like us”)* The expansion of public relations and advertising thus culminated in, according to Nicholas Garnham, ‘the direct control of private or state interests of the flow of public information in the interest, not of rational discourse, but of manipulation’ (1986 in McNair, 1995, 41).• Rise of political consultants, who become just as important as the leaders that they serve (Scammell, 1995)• Video: Tony Blair signs The Clash ( v=-dOszwPVCNo&feature=related)
  17. 17. After all, do political campaigns matters? (David Farrell and Rudiger Schmitt-Beck, 2002)Political campaigns are a core feature of the political process in contemporary democracies (the era of “permanent campaigns”, as Bennett reminds us)Most studies have focused on campaign effects in national contexts (US and UK mainly), but there has been a rise in comparative political campaigning practicesAuthors talk about 4 types of political campaigns: 1) elections; 2) referendums; 3) single-issue campaigns or interest-based and 4) image campaignsPermanent campaigns and “professionalization”
  18. 18. Political campaigns and their effects and types (Farrell and Schmitt-Beck, 2002, 13) Micro - Intentional: Unintentional: Knowledge gain Knowledge gain Perception change Perceptional change Mobilization De-motivation Persuasion Support/alienation Activation Reinforcement Conversion Macro - Success at elections Decline of elite Agenda setting responsiveness Framing of public debate (De)legitimization Public knowledge (De) mobilization Elite transformation Party transformation
  19. 19. Political parties and political marketing: what is it all about?Lees-Marshment (2001) argues that political science and communication scholars have not fully defined political marketingPolitical marketing is a new era of research, integrating political science and managementShift in political scenario from politicians debating what they want to discussing how to implement what voters wantConcerns: what are the consequences of this new state of things for democracy? Can politicians now really serve the public?
  20. 20. Politics and the post-modern: branding and consumerism Is political marketing effective? Is political advertising effective? If it is not, why are parties, and other interest groups, permanently campaigning? I.e. New Labour party political broadcast (“The Choice” ( in
  21. 21. Conclusions 1) Political systems have changed in advanced capitalist societies due to globalisation, geographical mobility and increase labour migration – decline of family and community, of party-based politics, etc 2) Rise in educational levels of the public, increase in sophistication and criticism and decline of class interests (middle and working class has become blurred) 3) Voters less faithful, less disposed to vote ideologically and more pragmatically 4) Shift of concern from parties away from political debate to present voters with what they want (i.e. Party delivery of product) 5) Submission of politicians to the media’s logic?, or a vicious circle of cooperation and conflict (i.e. the political media complex model) between the media and politicians?
  22. 22. Questions for further research 1) What has the impact been of political marketing on the political process? 2) Is political marketing really effective? In what ways is it different from “propaganda ”? 3) Do you think political conviction has died (Lees Marshment, 2001)? Do we still not choose parties and candidates according to our own view of the world and personal beliefs? Or is partisanship and ideology restricted now to the more politically engaged? ; 4) Can political marketing contribute to the rise of political cynicism, or is it a new way of engaging the disengaged? 5) In what way is political marketing a consequence of the “post-modern” reality that we live in? 6) Can political marketing not also be seen as a more “entertaining way” of doing and engaging with politics?
  23. 23. Seminar activities – to start today and to present for Wednesday1. Choose from the list a politician.2. Discuss their political image and how he/her was portrayed in a recent political campaign. 3. How would your company (or party) market the candidate and/or political party better in the future? What would your communication strategy be? 4. Design a political campaign for the next election using the texts that you have read to help you. David Cameron; Nicholas Sarkozy; Nelson Mandela ; Luis Inacio Lula da Silva; Gordon Brown; Angela Merkel; Hillary Clinton; Vladimir Putin and Ken Livingstone