Campaigns not about billboards T-shirts

Every campaign season comes with new strategies. The strategy applied in last season’s campaign must never be the same one used in the next season. This is a principle that smart politicians apply to win elections.

I read a story in the Standard headlined ‘No billboards, no caps, no T-shirts. Is Raila’s campaign cash-strapped?’ and something came to my mind. I read it more than once to try and understand the driving point, then I realised: The country is yet to understand the changing political dynamics in the world.

One thing that Kenyans ought to understand is that winning an election is not about pretty images. It is about being a credible candidate who projects a clear rationale as to why you should win and your opponent lose.

That is what the NASA flagbearer, Raila Odinga, believes in.

It is a workable philosophy, and any philosopher would tell you, as much as T-shirts, caps and billboards sell a candidate, ideas and their promise to the electorate are what really matter.

A candidate may choose to brand people by giving them T-shirts and caps and something small to fill the venue of their rally, but the question is, does this translate into votes?

The question by the author of the story is valid, but did he bother to find out what other polistrato (political strategy) NASA is employing and spending its money on? NASA is in campaign mode. Everything is moving on well. NASA is not in a state of suspended animation as the author of the story wants the country to believe.

There are many invisible strategies that a political campaign can apply to woo voters. ODM, and NASA in general, have not been into the Eurobond thing, neither have they looted from public coffers, they are simply fundraising to bolster their campaigns.

NASA is engaged in a smart campaign with an ideological mantra that is scaring Jubilee.

It is common knowledge that big money spenders are the noisiest lot. They will spend money to sell their product. A regime that is marked by corruption and other evil deeds will always do everything within its means to appeal to the public.

Like the old Swahili saying goes ‘Chema chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza (A good thing sells, a bad thing advertises)’, Kenyans can clearly differentiate between the meat eaters and those forced to salivate.

Elections are won or lost on emotions, not on logic.

Whether NASA have billboards, posters, caps and T-shirts, the most important element in winning a political campaign is the candidate. NASA has a brand in its candidate. The biggest strategy to win is to have the incumbent burn out, sweat and eventually surrender.

What is important is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission ensures a free, fair and transparent general election. The credibility of the August 8 election will be a milestone for Kenya. The whole world is watching this election. The onus is on the IEBC to get it right.

The writer is the communications director of the ODM. @Etalephilip

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