The 2019 South African National Elections are now over and the votes have been tallied, but I thought it would be useful to reflect on what we said advertising-wise [on CapeTalk567] leading up to these elections and see how that translated at the poles.

I’ll remind you that we said that the ANC haven’t changed their campaign advertising style since 1994 and that the 2019 version didn’t look any different. They arrogantly just relied on the ‘tried and tested’ formula, didn’t bother to innovate, didn’t try to bring across anything other than you were simply voting for President Cyril Ramaphosa. Their approach was very much like the party itself – lacking in creative ideas and youthful energy.

The DA basically force-fed their campaign through to the electorate and focused not on what policies their were hoping to implement, but rather elected to attack the ANC and EFF.

To me – the campaign was lacking in confidence.

They may have won the Western Cape, but the strategy that they adopted felt all over the place and childishly opportunistic. Unlike the other parties; they had provincial posters, national posters, ‘Keep the lights on’-posters, a ‘police’ poster, a ‘rail’ poster, a ‘jobs’ poster a ‘Fight the EFF and ANC’-posters, creepy automated voice messenger calls at 20h30 at night – you name it, they had it. Maybe if they had a strong point to make they could have done more with less and avoided irritating the hell out of all of us.

The GOOD party played on the strengths of Aunty Pat and for a party that is just 4 months old, they did fairly well…all things considered.

The real winner in my mind, advertising-wise leading up to the election was the EFF.

I was in Joburg on Monday and in the middle of Sandton there are still huge EFF billboards – proclaiming ‘Our land and jobs now.’

EFF 2019 election poster

Their message was to the point, simple, powerful and always painting a picture of the future they are offering. The EFF spoke directly to the concerns of their electorate and didn’t waste time or money on trying to swing voters who would never consider them.
From an advertising point of view, we called them tops leading into the elections and I think that their simple strategy has translated well at the polls.

EFF’s excellent election TVC – painting a picture of the future

Our winner then is the EFF – great job.

Obviously I’m being a bit cheeky here by simply looking at one aspect of each party and extrapolating their success or downfall via their advertising messaging and drawing conclusions from that, but it’s a fun mental exercise at least and in many cases all the convincing the majority of South African’s need when deciding which party to vote for.

Hopefully all political parties will do a proper analysis of their approaches and do a better jobs next time. Nobody has time to read lengthy manifestos and consider the finer nuances between parties anymore. State your case clearly and simply and you’ve got a good shout at success.

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