I’ve written a bit about U.S. presidential hopefuls using digital marketing to promote their campaigns. Barack Obama especially has made smart use of mobile and SMS messaging, while Republicans and Democrats alike send out email updates and newsletters. But I’ve got to admit, the presidential candidates in Zimbabwe can school the Americans any day.
The Zimbabwean presidential election, held Saturday, was preceded with SMS campaigns that some might think are more appropriate for fights between rival musicians than national leaders. The messages were used to make fun of other hopefuls while urging voters to elect the sender’s candidate of choice. For example, supporters of former ruling party finance minister Simba Makoni are believed to have sent the following text that puts down the now-ousted president Robert Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Morgan Tsvangirai:
”Robert Mugabe should be sent to farm, while Morgan Tsvangirai should be sent to school… And Simba Makoni must be allowed to rule.”
Then when unofficial vote counts (the kind that some constituents would say count more than ”official” ones, and which as of Wednesday still had not been announced by Mugabe’s administration) showed that Mr. Tsvangirai won the election and the MDC much of parliament, SMS gloating abounded. One oft-texted joke quoted Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace, as saying:
”Well, since the elections are to choose a new president and not a new first lady, I will stay behind with Tsvangirai.”
While it’s doubtful that U.S. candidates will text such colorful messages to the general masses, they can still act in the same spirit while rallying their own troops. Imagine the Republicans SMS-ing, ”We got Values, yes we do, we got Values, how Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbout you,” or the Democrats texting, ”Ch-ch-Changes!”
After all, as one news report about the political upheaval and socio-economic woes of Zimbabwe said, ”Modern technology only helps in terms of creating light-hearted moments at a time when there’s very little for Zimbabweans to laugh about.” And that’s the best way of all to engage an audience.
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
”I’d rather you text me”