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Black on White: The politics of marketing

Something appealing about the DA’s job offer, and its overall communication strategy in this upcoming election.

Around this time in the political season, one has to be ready to hear a lot of promises being passed around like free sweets at the carnival. It is this time we are drawn into discussions on which political party is best to take South Africa forward.

From a marketing, messaging point of view; the Democratic Alliance (DA) seems to have the kind of message that is likely to resonate with the voter, that’s if they stop long enough to listen. Well this is followed closely by the Congress of the People’s (COPE) overall focus as a political party.

From a marketing, messaging point of view; the Democratic Alliance (DA) seems to have the kind of message that is likely to resonate with the voter, that’s if they stop long enough to listen.

Coming to the message the DA is proposing to South Africans, first the hope of building One South Africa for All and branding its T-Shirts with the slogan is one coming close to being a master stroke. The reason for this is that, while other parties play to the identity of race, the DA plays to the patriotism of being South African.

Even more impressive is the party’s articulation of tackling the issue of job creation; instead of saying, “We will create so many jobs,” the party adopts what I would like to call the Steve Jobs’ moment with the Apple iPod. By saying, “We want at least a job in every home,” is equivalent to Steve Jobs saying, “Putting a thousand songs in your pocket.”

This is the kind of messaging that brings companies closer to not only communicating their WHAT, but communicating their WHY. Apple for many years has succeeded in communicating its WHY and today, some of its competitors are following in the same direction of communication.

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Here we see the DA adopting the similar approach in its job offer. However, as beautiful the message sounds and as well-crafted it is from a marketing point of view, one needs to remember; communicating one’s WHY is not only a technique used to advance your company or organisation, it should be an extension of the company or organisation’s values.

In this case, the DA has to understand that having at least a job in every home should not be just a nice electioneering slogan, but it has to be what the party has to commit to live for. This is where political organisations need to understand the value of infinite and finite games, and knowing the game they play.

To understand the difference between the two; finite games are games with a set of rules outlined also with a set of number of players agreed upon; this is usually any sport. Cricket is a finite game, (yes, even Test cricket); after a certain number of overs or days, the game comes to an end. Cricket players play to win the game!

On the other hand, the game of business or politics is an infinite game, yes there are finite games in between, but mostly it is an infinite game. The best organisations are those who play to stay in the game; and the frustration comes when you put a finite game player and an infinite game player against each other.

An example is as follows, let us say for argument’s sake the DA does not win the national elections in 2019; does that mean their quest to see South Africans have at least a job in every home stops? If it does, then it means the DA is missing the point of the game they are playing and they probably should not be in the game.

Sure, it will mean they cannot start working towards achieving a job in every home after the 2019 elections, but it shouldn’t mean they should stop. While elections are a finite game, the role political parties play in government and in society is an infinite game.

If the DA, ANC, EFF, COPE or any other political party ceases to exist, that doesn’t mean that government ceases to exist. It simply means, there will be new players or players who still have the will to continue with the game and the resources to do so.

To be clear, the messaging of the DA stands out more because it is a message of hope for everyone. Very often we find ourselves trapped into thinking if we celebrate our diversity, it does not mean we celebrate who we are as individuals or a specific race.

As for the DA and any other party, it would be best for the citizens if they stayed true to their manifesto promises within the context of the South Africa law, because working towards a job in every home does not only depend on having the majority of seats in government, it depends on playing a role from opposition benches to ensure South Africa prospers.