The elections prove a very critical point. Return to basics.
Quoting Henry Tan “Content is not necessarily king, distribution is king and engagement is the ultimate”. BN manage to maintained their simple majority simply because of mass reach of conventional media especially in rural areas. The Opposition could have probably won the elections had they not been denied the access to mass media. To counter that effect, the opposition ENGAGED the public via any means necessary effectively from online blogs to door to door visits and “ceramahs” fully utilizing powerful speakers like Anwar Ibrahim. Hence, this really proves how media planning has to evolve to communications channel planning - leveraging on touch points. Communications channel planning must be brought to the fore and not some after thought.
Understand your consumers! BN had misread the “rakyat” and therefore paid dearly. A clear lesson is getting the right information. Research is no longer calling up acquaintances and asking them what they think. Proper research via the correct channels is required to provide an accurate picture of any political and market situation. All parties (either client, media, creative, PR, research, etc) involved then have to really sit together to piece out REAL consumer insights. The opposition got this right by opening up to the grouses of the “rakyat”. It was BN’s development campaign vs the opposition’s change campaign. Cheesy and corny patriotic TVCs and testimonials versus a really witty sarcastic humorous online clip. A clear David vs Goliath example. By understanding your consumers then the right communication via the right channels within the right context could be achieve.
This would also mean that the mass media would have to seriously evolve too and see the people they are reaching as real consumers with real issues and needs. If not, consumers will move towards other media distribution points ie online. Hence, the shift of control over information distribution. These developments would be indeed interesting to observe especially how mainstream media will evolve in the content distribution business.
With all that said, it would mean advertisers must start seeing agencies as business partners and not just a another service provider. Agencies would have to make a really big leap of faith to explore the unknown and provide results oriented solutions by investing into research, training and optimizing. The industry would have to evolve by putting the consumer to the fore. Sometimes its not what is being said but more of what isn’t said.
As DAP puts is, “Change it” and not be be as the Malay saying goes “Katak di bawah tempurung” (Frog under the coconut shell). The elections have very important lessons which the BN government will not take for granted come the next election but to the industry as a whole.