REFORMY (219) Party for Sale? (in the CR) XI.

5. září 2015 | 05.45 |

Party for Sale? Political Marketing in the Czech Republic in the context of Election to the Chamber of Deputies in 2013 - Part XI

Aleš Drahokoupil

One of the best Diploma´s Thesis defended this academic year belongs to Aleš Drahokoupil. The Thesis was elaborated within the project Specific Research at University of Finance and Administration. It describes very well the social context of "pro-communication” reforms in terms of political marketing tools. Due to the fact, that the work is written in English, it is also available to international readers. I publish several sequels of selected passages within series of reforms.

Jedna z nejlepších diplomových prací obhájená v letošním roce patří Aleši Drahokoupilovi. Byla zpracována v rámci projektu SVV na VŠFS. Velmi dobře popisuje společenský kontext "prokomunikování" reforem z hlediska nástrojů politického marketingu. Vzhledem k tomu, že je v angličtině, je dostupná i zahraničním čtenářům. Uveřejňuji na několik pokračování vybrané pasáže v rámci seriálu o reformách.

Offline media campaigns

According to Admosphere, the company which monitors advertisement market, the highest investment to printed media and out-of-home (OOH) advertisement had ČSSD (over 90 million in market prices) (Šíma et al., 2013). The second biggest spending according to market prices had SPOZ (69 million) and third was ANO (63 million). However, the real price was probably much lower. Official amount for ČSSD was 15 million for printed media and 18 million for outdoor advertisement (ČSSD, 2013).

Direct mail campaigns

Most parties used some form of direct mail campaigns (pamphlets or postcards). ČSSD ordered delivery of a tabloid like newspaper with stories related to party's program, to all households. Content of the newspaper was modified in different regions and districts. A letter from the party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka was sent to all households after that. ANO also had pamphlets delivered to all households. 

Probably the best segmentation targeting was done by TOP 09, which sent two types of direct mail. One with topics related to small businesses was sent to 140,000 sole traders. The other was sent to households in bigger towns.

Online Campaigns

Social networks and Facebook in particular are increasingly used as a tool of election campaigns. First party in the Czech Republic to intensively use Facebook was TOP 09 to promote its candidate Karel Schwarzenberg in 2013 presidential elections. In the general election in 2010, marketing on social networks was still a marginal phenomenon.  In 2013, it was different game because all parties used some form of online promotion, mainly on Facebook. This channel enables effective communication with voter without the use of mass media as an intermediary.   

With around 3.8 million registered Czech user accounts, Facebook is by far the most popular social networking site in the Czech Republic (Socialbakers, 2013). Twitter, which is widely popular network abroad, and increasingly more used for political communication, is much less widespread in the Czech Republic – in spring 2013 it had only about 150,000 users and therefore it played only marginal role when compared to Facebook. 

Social networks are occupied mainly by right wing parties and parties with younger electorate. Most of Facebook users are less than 45 years old. The biggest group are people between 25-34 years old (28.1 %), the second group includes people 18-24 old (26.3 %) and third 35-44 (18.8 %). Surprisingly only around 10 % of Facebook users have not reached voting age (Socialbakers, 2013). With almost hundred thousand fans on Facebook, TOP 09 had the highest fan base from all parties.

According to Admosphere (2013), these parties invested the highest portion of their advertisement budget to online activities: Green party (40 %), followed by ODS (29 %), ČSSD (19 %) and ANO (17 %).

ANO was putting strong emphasis on its online presentation and advertisement. Marek Prchal was in charge of online communication. ANO's fan base on Facebook was growing rapidly from 11 thousands in the middle of August 2013 up to 68 thousands in only two months. In October 2013 its fan base was growing by almost 2000 people per day and that is more than ODS had grown in the whole campaign. ANO and Andrej Babiš were also very successful in its presentation on Twitter. According to Prchal (cited in Novotný, 2013), Twitter is suitable channel for Babiš, because of his specific accent of mixing Czech and Slovak language and his common usage of witty one-liners. 

Celebrity endorsement

Endorsement is public support statement expressed by a celebrity or an organization. These short statements or citations are usually put on website and used for other media presentations. This element of election marketing has become popular since presidential campaign. In 2013 elections, some parties were actively searching for this support.

ANO was probably most successful in celebrity endorsement. Many popular sportsman (e.g. Jaromír Jágr, Roman Šebrle, Josef Váňa), entrepreneurs (e.g. Radim Jančura, Stanislav Bernard) and actors (Ivana Chýlková, Veronika Žilková) expressed public support for the movement.

TOP 09 actively approached celebrities which supported Karel Schwarzenberg in presidential election (Poláček, 2013). For this purpose they were using database created by presidential election team. TOP 09 also ran website where celebrities could express support.

ANO used celebrities in order to legitimize the movement (Braun, 2013). As part of campaign, celebrities appeared together with candidates on rallies in regional cities.  

(to be continued)

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