The making of the Anna nightmare

Could there be a worse PR disaster ever for the UPA government, more so the Congress Party? Nah. Don't think so. Anna while rising by the minute, is taking the UPA image down into the gutter. Its a pity there aren't any smart spin doctors around to bail the Congress Party, and the UPA out of this nightmare.

First, what the did the government do wrong?

One, they got the THEME wrong. The government put out rational arguments to confront the emotional blitzkrieg Anna had unleashed. Its common knowledge to marketers, consumer won't rationalise when their right brains dictate their behaviour. Wish the government knew that. No amount of constitutional lectures are going to work when a crowd's in frenzy.

Two, they got the MESSENGERS wrong. Suave, sophisticated cats don't work when the opponent is earthy and simple. The likes of Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Singhvi, and Salman Khurseed work if the audience is the English news watching kind. If the audience is the swooning kind, you need a different lot to connect with the ones in frenzy. You need someone who's got mass appeal. Now who fits the bill in the current government? None, I guess, though I must add, Rahul's getting there.

Three, they got their ENDORSERS wrong. Constitutional lawyers who've gotten fat on the status quo-system don't make great endorsers. Their 'subversion of institutions' story may be right, but who's willing to listen? Especially when the masses know these 'constitutional experts' may probably have never faced the brunt of corruption. Their glibness and their stature would have bailed them out at government offices. Not so for the common man. His lot's different. He knows the hell government bureaucracy is, having experienced it throughout his life, and so he's least willing to listen to the constitutional fat cats.

Four, they got their MESSAGE wrong. The two biggest blunders of the past two days have been, the attack on Anna's credibility via corruption charges, and taking Anna to Tihar jail. The irony in these two acts just got amplified. A corrupt government calling a Gandhian corrupt. A corrupt government taking the Gandhian to a jail housing the corrupt! How much more ironic can it get!?

Now, what's the way out for the government?

One, back off from a direct confrontation. Two, open up to a dialogue with Anna and party. Three, shut up, and stop sermonising. Four, go back to the drawing board on the government Lokpal Bill. Five, Lose the arrogance, and start talking to the masses via mass media on the future course of action on the bill.

Finally, for god's sake, get your governance right by punishing the corrupt, increasing transparency, and loosening on bureaucratic regulation.

Of course, I know, easier said than done!


Prof, Nice post. You summed it up perfectly in your last paragraph.
vikas narnolia said…
I haven't seen a better nexus of marketing to economic situation. Although it cant be completely called an economic situation.

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