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Can politicians have a brand value?

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MUMBAI: The Bhartiya Janta Party seems to be riding high on its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, especially in the digital world it seems. After offerings like two smartphones - SmartNaMo Saffron One and SmartNaMo Saffron Two, mobile games like Modi Run and Narendra Modi: Game, now there’s a NaMo online store launched by Take India Beyond Merchandising that would sell everything from t-shirts to stationery.

According to a media report, all the items sold on the site are inspired by Modi’s lifestyle and values. The products are differentiated in categories as NaMo Mantra, NaMo Lekh and NaMo Tech.

While the idea seems really interesting on the face of it, if we look back we can hardly think of a politician making a brand. Even after thinking hard the only Indian politicians/political leaders who come to mind to have inspired the masses in terms of products are people like Mahatma Gandhi whose Gandhi topi is still worn by the masses at the time of protests; Indira Gandhi’s style of wearing saris has not only been adapted by bahu Sonia Gandhi but many women who stand to fight for a right; Jawahar Lal Nehru takes the credit for making more than one thing popular including the red rose, the Nehru jacket and topi. Internationally, US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a big brand followed by people across the globe.

And since the number of such politicians could be counted on finger tips, we really wonder if politicians can become brand endorsers? “They surely can,” remarks veteran ad man Prahlad Kakar, who thinks that Modi is a big brand in today’s time.

Kakar says that if a politician maintains a stature and charisma big enough to draw the masses, he can become a brand and have a shelf life too. “The chai wallah remark by Modi has pulled the masses and if the online store keeps the focus of the promotion around that, they will benefit hugely,” he quips. According to Kakar, a campaign like “Chai Wallah Upaay Wallah Hai”can really work wonders for brand NaMo.

And it is not just Kakar, even brand consultant Harish Bijoor thinks that in today’s time politicians have become more like a symbol. “The way the actors sell as a symbol, now politicians will sell as well. Right now Narender Modi is very popular among the masses and that is the reason behind so many people making profits out of brand NaMo. However, it may be short-lived. The brand value will survive only till the time the politicians are popular and in sight,” he remarks.

Interestingly, they won’t be surprised to see other politicians becoming a brand. The possibility of products made around the styles and values of Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi (if he survives in the upcoming political battle), Vasundhara Raje among few others, getting popular is high.

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