NEW DELHI: The official Twitter handle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi took election marketing to a new level on Wednesday morning. In a move ostensibly to create voter awareness, Modi tweeted out to prominent people, including movie stars, cricketers, industrialists, journalists, spiritual gurus and even rival politicians, to encourage Indians to vote in large numbers in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
It started with a blog on Modi’s website titled “Four Requests for Democracy", in which he urged people, especially youngsters, to register themselves as voters, check electoral rolls, plan, and mobilize turnout.
Out of the 91 individuals and institutes Modi tagged, the top 15 boast follower counts ranging from 13-37 million.
Modi began with rivals and opposition leaders such as Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav and M.K. Stalin. These received the highest traction with 2,200 replies, 9,300 retweets and 33,000 likes.
He also tagged young movie stars. The wordplay was hard to miss. “My young friends Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan and Vicky Kaushal, many youngsters admire you. It is time to tell them: Apna Time Aa Gaya Hai and that it is time to turn up with high Josh to a voting centre near you," Modi tweeted, cashing in on the huge success of Singh’s latest film Gully Boy and its rap anthem Apna Time Aayega and Kaushal’s blockbuster war epic Uri: The Surgical Strike with its iconic tagline “How’s The Josh".
Senior actors Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, and filmmaker Karan Johar were also encouraged to spread voter awareness, as were Salman Khan and Aamir Khan, among others. Sportspersons weren’t left out either. He tagged cricketers M.S. Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. “You are always setting outstanding records on the cricketing field but this time, do inspire the 130 crore people of India to set a new record of high voter turnout in the upcoming elections," Modi tweeted.
Social media experts view it as a smart strategy to reach out to a vast section of the electorate in one go.
“This is just the start of the election season and we can already see the clarity of strategy. The first reach is to the upwardly mobile Indians with an inclusive agenda of voting. The reach cuts across consumer cohorts of sports, celebrities and opinion leaders, including opposition leaders. Right influencers backed with personalization of messaging helped him get more than 1.4 lakh retweets and 5.5 lakh interactions in a couple of hours," said Shekhar Banerjee, managing partner at Wavemaker India, a GroupM-owned media agency.
“This is disruptive communication for sure. It makes people sit up and take notice immediately. Besides, the tag feels like personal communication with these high-level people," agreed political analyst Manisha Priyam.
This is definitely an advertising strategy for brand Modi that seeks to affirm his centrality to the electoral process, she said.