A good product generates its own PR. That, in a nutshell, is the success of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement. The movement seemed to have a life of its own. Yet, it was a very successful PR exercise at the same time, and this is what leading public relations and communications firm Hanmer MSL has examined in this case study, the first of the thought leadership studies that Hanmer MSL’s new content service plans to put together on a regular basis.
Anna Hazare took up an issue that affects the common man in every aspect of his life he must bribe officials for even simple things like a driving licence to something major like getting his child admission into school. In his interaction with the government/bureaucracy, absolutely nothing gets done unless he pays a bribe.
we can compare the Jan Lokpal Bill to a product that satisfies a crying need the reduction of corruption, if not its extinction. The success of the agitation is astonishing because it had no professional help. Yet, a good product (the Jan Lokpal Bill), clear messaging and use of the right communication tools for this age (it’s been a social media-fuelled stir, which is why you see such a large youth participation), have led it to great success.
If the Jan Lokpal Bill is the product, Anna Hazare is the brand ambassador. Here are a few lessons he taught us about brand-building through the campaign.
Lesson 1: Have an idea that connects
Rocked by five major scams over the past year, India was angry at the government, its seeming lack of will to tackle corruption and the time it took to act. A strong, independent Lokpal that could investigate ministers, the bureaucracy, the judiciary and even the prime minister was an idea whose time had come.
Lesson 2: Create symbols, icons
Every timeless brand has its symbols Nike and its swoosh, for instance. Most brands also have their icons Steve Jobs for Apple, for example. Similarly, every public movement has its symbols and icons the charkha and non-violence as symbols and Mahatma Gandhi as the icon of the freedom movement. Similarly, Hazare and the Gandhi topi became the icon and symbol respectively of the anti-graft fight.
Lesson 3: Offer a consumer experience
Each brand has a distinct character. But how do you make the consumer experience it? Hazare chose the Ramlila ground for its size, allowing thousands to throng it and take in the atmosphere. Having experienced their own power, the people began to believe they could change things. There was no looking back.
Lesson 4: Test market
All successful products are test marketed before they are launched. Anna’s earlier fast at Jantar Mantar showed that the idea could work. It provided the vindication for a larger movement.
Lesson 5: Package it right
Product, pricing, promotion, packaging are the four Ps of marketing. In this case, packaging was paramount. Anna’s white dhoti-kurta and his clean image were the perfect magnets for the jeans and T-shirt generation.
Lesson 6: Make a media plan
The campaign was timed perfectly to grab media attention. Launched between the World Cup and IPL, it filled the media vacuum that existed then. Team Anna Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan gave innumerable interviews to the media, making sure the campaign was centrestage all the time. Hazare himself did not give too many interviews in fact, none during the second round of agitations. He spoke just once to Kiran Bedi from Tihar Jail, which he refused to leave after his arrest. This created a larger impact than any media interview could have had. Apart from this, he addressed the public and media several times at the Ramlila Maidan. There was another critical aspect to the media communication: the campaign had only the abovementioned people speaking to the media. This was smart thinking. The fewer the voices, the less scope there was for distortion of the message. Would any...