Chaiwalas, Masks And Other Brand Mechanics : How ‘Product’ Modi Was Marketed

The BJP leader was sold to chaiwalas across the country through his periodical Chai pe charcha, which struck a chord among the masses. This, like Kejriwal’s image-makeover as someone fixing electricity meters, became a force-multiplier for Modi. His image as a tough, no-nonsense administrator and boasts of his 56-inch chest, among others, helped him project himself at the national level…


chaiwala-masks-and-other-brHaving turned Manishankar Aiyar’s barb into an opportunity, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi filed his nomination from the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat making a pitch for “good governance” and emphasising his links with the region. Modi, 64, filed his nomination after a road show that was attended by thousands of BJP workers and supporters, who thronged the city streets. Symbolism was not lost as tea vendor (chaiwala) Kiran Mahida and a member of city’s royal family Shubhanginidevi Raje-Gaekwad signed as supporters when Modi filed his papers.

Stunning makeover

Modi’s image-makeover is attributed to US-based consultancy agency APCO Worldwide, initially hired by the Gujarat Government in 2007 to market the biennial Vibrant Gujarat investors summits. These summits became the stepping stone for Modi to emerge on the national scene as corporate leaders showered praise on him as an industry- and business-friendly leader. It also created an impression about Gujarat’s development and the State as a destination for investment. With Modi being named first as the BJP’s campaigner-in-chief and later as the PM aspirant in 2013, this “model” of image-building got a boost.
According to sources, its strategy was simple: promote Modi as the only leader of consequence in the BJP, and target select voter groups, like youth and farmers. This “shopping model” worked professionally to sell the product, Modi, to as many customer-segments as possible. The BJP leader was sold to chaiwalas across the country through his periodical Chai pe charcha, which struck a chord among the masses. This, like Kejriwal’s image-makeover as someone fixing electricity meters, became a force-multiplier for Modi. His image as a tough, no-nonsense administrator and boasts of his 56-inch chest, among others, helped him project himself at the national level.

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Always in news

Modi, with his mastery of political communication, remained in news continuously, for various controversies. Modi merchandise flooded the market ever since the “Modi masks” emerged in Gujarat. These include saffron caps, tee-shirts and even a balm. In the current polls, the Modi team, comprising hundreds of tech-savvy youths who often overshadow the RSS and BJP machinery, has seen to it that the product is continuously advertised.
– The Hindu Business Line/PTI

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