Friday, February 5, 2010

My take on the Noynoy Aquino campaign playbook


Noynoy Aquino is the leading candidate in the 2010 Presidential elections; that's according to the latest surveys which nightly news broadcasts never fail to feature. His popularity peaked in part due to circumstances that surround his family: the martyrdom of his father, the Presidency and the death of his mother, the celebrity status (and the lack of privacy in the life) of one of his sisters, and the dramatic events centred upon his bid for the highest position in the country. 

The death of former President Cory Aquino stirred once more the hearts of Filipinos born during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos, and gave the younger generation an opportunity to get a glimpse of what her fight was all about. Her death is serendipitous for Noynoy's campaign: to win, he needs the votes of the new generation and of those of his parents' supporters. As expected, he was thrust into the Presidential campaign (with the accompanying media-hype), when it was Senator Mar Roxas who was previously positioned to run.

A lot of movie stars graced the first campaign music video released. However, it seems to me that this advertisement was released all too soon. When the other candidates began showing their platforms, they started to close in to Noynoy's lead in the surveys. I suspect that this is partly because their material showed their strengths, their accomplishments, and what they plan to do as President. The catchy one-liners and jingles also definitely boosted their name-recall. In contrast, the next political ads in Noynoy's playbook emphasised what he won't do: he will not steal. What bothered me was the focus on the guidance from his late parents. Yes, they were great and influential people, and they did a lot for the Philippines; but to me, these advertisements portray them as larger than life, who can guide this country even after death. In these ads, it seemed that Noynoy was staying under his parents' shadows. 

Having a great genetic background does not automatically mean that the progeny would be of the same impressive phenotype as the parents.

In the latest plug, he was shown stating his platform. He says he will fight against corruption - a thinly veiled critique of the past and the present administrations. He attributed poverty and the shortage of quality public utilities to corrupt public officials. Though better than the previous ads, this latest one also fell short. How different is he from the other candidates then? Nobody in his or her right mind would publicly declare that they're corrupt. This ad didn't say something new; it didn't say what Noynoy plans to do to battle corruption. It wasn't even as powerful and empathic as former President Erap Estrada's "Walang kaibi-kaibigan at walang kamag-anak-anak" promise that raised the hopes of millions of impoverished Filipinos (only to have them nastily erased by his alleged extravagant behaviour).

With a few more months before Election Day, I think that his next advertisements should start to outline how he plans to tackle issues or how he has done so in the past (and composing the clauses of a law shouldn't be counted; that's the job of legislators). Mix these with an appealing theme song, then he is almost certain to get that seat in the Palace.

Click the link for Noynoy's website.