ONLINE POLITICAL MARKETING IN SPANISH LOCAL ELECTIONS: A CASE STUDY

AUTHOR
Mario Arias-Oliva, Antonio Pérez-Portabella, Mar Souto-Romero, Leonor González-Menorca and Teresa Torres-Coronas.

ABSTRACT

Political marketing and political communication are growing areas of academic and professional development (Kotler and Kotler, 1999). It is difficult to know when marketing and management techniques began to be applied to the political area. According to Tedlow (2001) it was in the first election in Australia in 1843 when candidates of New South Wales were using posters, leaflets, announcements in the newspapers, banners of brilliant colours, flags and ribbons. Wring (1994) points out that in 1920 posters began to be used for political purposes: Saatchi and Saatchi created the poster “Labour isn’t working”. These are samples of the beginnings of political marketing and political communication. Wring (1997) notes that it was in 1956 when we find for the first time the term “political marketing”. It was used by Kelley (1956:53) to indicate the growing influence of professional managers in the electoral campaigns of the United States.

Some theoretical approaches think that it is possible to make a direct transfer of the marketing technologies and methods in the politics. Other approaches, such us Lock and Harris (1996) contributions, think that there are fundamental differences between the marketing of products and services (or commercial marketing) and the political marketing. Dean and Croft (2001:1197) point that the traditional frames of marketing do not fit in the configuration of political marketing. Anyway technologies and tools from mass communication and from managerial marketing are being increasingly applied by different groups (political parties, politicians, governments, members of parliament, associations and groups of interest) and in many areas of the political scene (deeper understanding of voters, fundraising, strategic design or transmission of messages).

The development of marketing methods based on ICT are provoking important transformations in political marketing and communication. The political activity is changing focus from systems based on the ideology and leadership of persons and/or groups, to systems in which the opinion of the society as its needs are the key dimensions in the definition and execution of political marketing strategies. Political information has become in a service demanded by the “consumers”. In this environment, consumers are lobbying to political institutions in order to respond to their demands (Wymer W., Lees-Marshment J.; 2004:1). The behaviour of political groups has changed. Political organizations do not focus their strategies on a solid ideology that sustain their actions to persuade the masses (Lees-Marshment, 2001a). Nowadays strategies are determined by voters, and political parties try to follow society demands, adapting its ideological postulates to the changing sociological needs. ICT turn into fundamental tool, turning out imperative to analyze the impacts of technology on politics.

In this paper we analyze the complex concept of political marketing, its relationship with other disciplines, and the ICT potential impacts on this field. We will make an exploratory research to know the use and perceptions of online political marketing in local Spanish elections as an exploratory study. We will use a focus group research method to analyse both the use and perceptions of citizens regarding the emerging online marketing techniques that are being used currently. Focus group is a particularly useful research tool for exploratory research, when rather litter is known about the phenomenon of interest (Steward, Shamdadani and Rook; 2007:41).

REFERENCES

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