- POSTED: 10 Jan 2014 16:56
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From next month in India, Congress vice-president and the party's likely prime ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi, is expected to be all over television, print and digital media.
NEW DELHI: From next month in India, Congress vice-president and the party's likely prime ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi, is expected to be all over television, print and digital media.
The Congress party, which suffered a huge defeat in the recently-held provincial elections, has roped in reputed public relations firms from Japan and the UK to revamp its image ahead of general elections later this year.
In the run-up to the general elections due in May, the party has hired Japanese advertising and public relations firm, Dentsu India, to strategise a poll campaign for Mr Gandhi.
The agency will work on a campaign around the idea of “empowering the common man” while focusing on portraying Mr Gandhi as a young leader capable of delivering on the aspirations of the public.
Meanwhile, another PR agency, Burson-Marsteller, has been tapped to handle his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
In all, the party is planning to spend a whopping US$80 million to build up his image.
Party leaders, however, have underplayed the strategy.
Digvijay Singh, Congress leader, said: "This is definitely news. But, it's nothing unusual…don't you know about Narendra Modi's PR strategy and his collaboration with the foreign firm Apco Worldwide?"
While to date, Mr Gandhi is not active on social networking sites, his competitor and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has embraced the online world, as has newcomer New Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Interestingly, BJP, which itself has spent hefty sums on Modi's image build-up in the past, was quick to slam Congress for splurging such a huge amount on a PR activity.
Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP spokesperson, said: "If Congress party can afford to spend this kind of money on PR exercises rather than on people's welfare, I am not sure if the people of India are not going to understand it.
“Certainly a PR exercise with that kind of a billing is something which the people of India will look with certain distaste, at a time when the country is going through a financial and economic crisis."
If followers on social websites are to be believed, both Mr Modi and Mr Kejriwal are well ahead of the Congress protégé -- but only time will tell if these virtual waves and marketing gimmicks will actually translate into votes in the upcoming elections.
The Congress party's big branding exercise may succeed in giving Mr Gandhi's image a makeover ahead of the national polls, but the question is, has it come too late, given that the opposition candidates are already established and engaged with their constituents on social media.