Political Marketing

Better Essays
Reconciling Marketing with Political Science: Theories of Political Marketing.
Journal of Marketing Management, 1997, Vol 13, pp.651-663

Dominic Wring

This paper has two broad aims: to trace the theoretical development of political marketing and then demonstrate how these concepts can be used in the analysis of election campaigns. Electioneering is not the sole manifestation of marketing in politics but it is the most obvious, a point underlined by recent work addressing the prominent role now played by political marketing in a parliamentary democracy like Britain (Franklin 1994; Kavanagh 1995; Scammell 1995). Whilst much of this material understandably concentrates on the once neglected work of campaign practitioners, the more
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The British and American definitions are useful in that they counteract the crude and oversimplistic belief that marketing is simply about firms giving their customers what they want. Such a cliché may convey clarity but it obscures more complex truth. And because some in political science (not to mention other disciplines) may have misunderstood marketing in this way, it helps explain why relatively few in the field have sought to use it as a tool of electoral analysis.

Marketing then is a process in which the notion of “consumer focus” plays a major strategic role but not to the exclusion of organisational needs. Compared with over-simplistic customer centred understandings of the subject, this theoretical interpretation fits more easily with the world of “realpolitik”. In analysing the electoral market Adrian Sackman emphasises this point, arguing that: “Marketing is thus built upon a paradox; it starts with the customer, is directed at the customer, but is fundamentally concerned with the satisfaction of the producer 's own interests” (Sackman 1992). Such sentiments resemble J.K.Galbraith 's stricture that marketing and advertising are activities governed and to some extent created by producer groups (Galbraith 1969). In political science this view is reflected in theoretical considerations of competition which attempt
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