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Communist Poll Marketing
- CPM borrows a corporate strategy to take on Trinamul

Calcutta, March 19: The poll battle in Bengal is set to be played out on the lines of the contest among FMCG majors for market share, with the CPM today kicking off a campaign modelled on the direct marketing approach.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose released seven booklets highlighting what the communists perceive as a mismatch between Mamata Banerjee’s development claims and the “reality”. The Left also promised to ensure that the booklets reached those in the remotest corners of Bengal.

Each booklet focuses on a specific subject, such as the government’s alleged failure to deliver on promises to the minorities and the rise in atrocities against women.

“We are releasing the booklets so that people can know the truth,” Bose said this afternoon.

Reaching out to the target audience directly, through mailers and emails, is at the core of the direct marketing approach often adopted by companies for cost-effective targeted communication with customers.

In direct marketing, companies inform customers about the intrinsic strengths of products and how they are superior to competing brands. The CPM is, however, trying to highlight the weaknesses of Trinamul and in turn seek votes for its candidates.

“This is an innovative approach for an underdog like the CPM. It is good that they have also realised the need for direct communication, a trend Mamata Banerjee started in Bengal by launching her Facebook page and the party’s official Twitter handle,” an advertising industry insider said.

“Now, Mamata has the edge as she has a direct communication channel. After debuting in the wired world through Facebook and Twitter, the CPM now seems to be ready with its tools to connect with people in the real world,” he added.

With Trinamul fielding star candidates such as Dev and Moon Moon Sen, the fight for Lok Sabha seats is likely to set off marketing fireworks as Mamata’s strategists would want to cash in on the saleability and appeal of the celebrities.

“We are raising key issues in print without indulging in an ad blitzkrieg. We want our opponents to respond to our questions. If they want our answers, they can also come up with publications and we will be happy to answer,” said Mridul De, a CPM central committee member and one of the brains behind the move to bring out the booklets.

Alimuddin Street’s social media cell of 20-odd youngsters has prepared the contents of the booklets.

Unlike the usual publications of the Left, which have the red hammer, sickle and star on a white cover, the seven booklets have colourful illustrations and cartoons.

“Special care was taken to ensure that the writing is simple and lucid so that common people don’t have problems in comprehending the message,” De said.

According to him, the usual publications of the Left are for cadres, but these booklets are meant for the common people.

More than one lakh copies of each of the seven booklets have been printed. CPM sources said consignments were being sent to the districts as the party’s campaign strategy is woven around the booklets.

Unlike the BJP and the Congress, which prefer big bang advertisement blitzkrieg before elections through billboards and media canvassing, the CPM is focusing on intensive door-to-door campaigning.

“Cadres will carry the booklets with them. After speaking to voters about the misrule in the state, the cadres will request them to take a look at the booklets, priced at Rs 2 each,” De said.

CPM sources said the price, fixed to recover the publication cost, would not come in the way of the booklets’ circulation.

“Besides, we will digitise the contents shortly and upload them on our Faceboook page to reach out to wider audience,” a source said.

As the booklets are a part of the Lok Sabha poll campaign, not all of them are specific to the state. One of them is on Mamata’s tenure as railway minister.

On the cover of the booklet titled Trinamul Asholey Ki (What Trinamul really is) is a demonic figure with 13 hands, with the number 0 inscribed on its chest. One of the hands holds an umbrella, the tip of which juts out as a trident light, an apparent reference to the alleged Calcutta Municipal Corporation scam. Other issues such as the Saradha Group collapse and the TET fiasco are written on the umbrella.

The other hands clutch books and pamphlets titled “Goebbels” and “extortion”, a bloody sword, a gun and a bundle of cash. One of the hands throttles a student while another pulls a woman by the hair. One of hands flashes the victory sign.

“We wanted the covers to be symbolic without being too cryptic. They are attractive yet easy to decipher for the layman,” said Soumendra Nath Bera, the former minister of state for information and cultural affairs.