Advertising in Tanzanian Elections

The 2015 elections in Tanzania will go down in history as the most competitive elections ever held in this peaceful haven. We have seen different strategies being deployed all aimed at swaying the masses and amassing votes. What stood out however, were the rigorous marketing strategies that political parties used to sell their candidates and party agenda.
It is reported that parties spent billions of shillings on election campaign activities, ranging from billboard advertising, celebrity endorsement to social media campaigns. The country was literary painted green, yellow, blue and white as political parties took over all the billboards, screens and newspapers. Customary business advertising was interrupted by the general election campaign whereby many billboards, newspapers and screens were plastered with political campaign adverts beginning in late August.
Political campaigning in Tanzania took many forms and proved that as a nation we have grown into election advertising. Guns were drawn as politicians and political parties invaded all available platforms to push their agenda in effort to woo voters. Posters, flags and fliers that filled the streets, as camps battled it out for vantage position across the city. But, this year we have seen other forms of advertising being deployed as the race tightened.
Out of Home
Outdoor had the largest share of political advertising as political parties and aspirants took over billboards in most urban areas notably Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha, and along major highways and road junctions. They all carried election campaign messages exhorting prospective voters to plump for specified political party candidates. In this sense, outdoor advertising was mostly preferred especially by the 2 major political parties to captivate audiences. We saw a lot of campaign flamboyance especially from the ruling party with branded buses, helicopters and digital billboards.
Social media campaigns
The number of mobile and internet subscribers in Tanzania has tremendously increased over the past years; more people now have access to internet through their computers or their mobile phones. Thus, social media was a timely and welcome strategy for election advertising in Tanzania. The social media provided a strategic platform for political parties targeting the massive youth population. Almost every political leader had his/her presence on social media (most being on, Facebook, twitter, Instagram and YouTube), and some even established personal websites and blogs. This act made social media a secondary if not primary platform for election campaigns for politicians to interact and communicate with voters and allow them to argue against opponents. On Twitter, we saw political parties compete to set the trending topics. Google ads were also used.
Celebrity endorsements
As with all other elections, celebrities and public figures played a major role in election campaigns to endorse political leaders and parties. Not certain if they did influence voting patterns but am sure they did pull crowds to their political parties. Artists, actors and influential persons aligned themselves to political parties making use of their resources to campaign in their favor. It has been revealed that these “celebrities” have made millions to entertain and draw crowds to political rallies. Celebrity social media pages were an added advantage as they engaged fans and followers trying to influence their vote.
Print Media
Election advertising used print media to sell their agenda using inserts and pull outs. Print media has qualities that make it the holy grail of advertising and we saw this during these elections. This mode of advertising worked well especially this year as political parties were all about selling their ideologies and manifestos proving that print is not dead. There is something about print that gives it legitimacy and trust to information it carries. What added flavor to the mix is the creativity that was used in the layout of the advertising.