WHY NASA MUST RECALIBRATE ITS MESSAGE IN ORDER TO WIN OVER THE NEW VOTER
By Jackson Omondi
In elections just like in business, the marketing outfits must be able to keep up with the needs and preferences of emerging consumers. It’s just that simple. A business that can’t adjust, reinvent itself, recalibrate it’s products to suit new Customer preferences and needs is bound to tank! No ifs and buts – certainly not when your competitors are busy tapping into the new frontiers. Congruently, political outfits that engage in ideological inertia are bound to fail.
A political organization must keep up with the needs of the new voter and look to tap into their preferences just to establish some philosophical and ideological distance that reflect the new dynamics. This is why I submit that NASA should revamp its platform to reflect the new realities of 2017. To illustrate my point, I will tell a story. Walk with me.
I just came back from a much needed sojourn in Jamhuri and while it was meant to be a vacation, I just couldn’t divorce the political consultant in me from the man that needed a break. Every little gathering that I bumped into, inevitably turned into a political focus group ripe with folks from all walks of life to interview.
One such outing was at Kuche Kuche joint. Sporting revellers neatly seated in all corners being serenaded by Benga maestro Johny Junior, I found myself salivating over the multiple clusters of voters, whom I believed were all prime material for questioning and data mining if not fact finding!
So between cutting the rug and the multiple breaks from the live performance, I decided to throw a round of libation to folks at the neighbouring table. Nonplussed by the ‘gesture’ from a complete stranger, a bunch of ‘thank yous’ flew my way, little did they know, that they were about to earn the drinks!
Armed with mental notes and pointed questions, I pulled my chair and joined them. Starting off with the obligatory talking points, I then pivoted to NASA and Jubilee platforms seeking to find a coherent articulation of party platforms. The responses were more hinged on reputation and legacy than real positions on issues.
The most prominent legacy and reputation response was centered on the enigma but even while at it, nobody gave a clear explanation or demonstrated how the enigma’s signature legacy item affects them! To me, this confirmed a long held suspicion: by not clearly weaving the enigma’s story to fit the current political environment, RAO’s handlers are opening him up for more innuendo and conjecture from the Jubilee side.
Save for an occasional verbal salad from an inebriated reveller who inundated us with his ‘expertise’ on RAO’s itinerary, most folks had a lot of substantive points touching on election day concerns and tallying.
But it was two young folks who delivered the headline and the most breathtaking concern of the evening. Sitting pensively while munching on Khat, the younger man delivered this line: ” Koro uwacho wach reforms go to wanto wadenyo to kendo waonge tich?” (You folks are talking about reforms and yet we are hungry and we have no jobs).
His message was co- signed by his peer who iced the cake with this chilling line: ” Tangu lini mtu akona njaa akatega maskio? To the two young men, all the talk about reforms and reform credentials was pure manure! They wanted to hear a message that incorporated their immediate needs and judging from their reaction, both parties are not speaking to them.
Closer to home, I asked my younger brother, a 26 year-old university graduate, if he had any idea what repealing Section 2A was and his answer didn’t surprise me. He and his ilk have no idea what reform agitation entails and are certainly not swayed by a message that to them, sounds like Vasco da Gama era stuff. They care about kitchen table issues. They want jobs and better healthcare. I am in no way cheapening the stellar records of those who fought for liberation. They deserve our respect and honor but we must now inculcate the new political realities.
We must recognize that those talking points appeal to the declining demographics who lived through the tough eras of yore and realize that there is a new voter who is not buying historical injustice as a political argument. While the TJRC report is very crucial for our political fabric, it must not be a political headliner on our platform. The new voter, a must- WIN in 2017 and beyond is hungry and wants a job or that internship and until we start speaking his or her language, we will struggle in this new dispensation. Our message must evolve with the times.
It’s indisputable that Jubilee’s 2013 “Digital” platform message was golden and it worked because it swept the emerging voter of the time, off their feet. Now, whether or not they delivered after the election is a whole new story. But there is no denying the impact that it had on the new voter.
NASA must act now. There is no time to waste.