A blessing in disguise? Political branding through covid-19 pandemic in Tanzania
Keywords:brand, covid-19, political advertising, branding
Like other brands in the market, politicians and political parties constantly brand themselves to influence consumer (voter) behaviour. Through political advertising, political brands are established and maintained in order to establish a clear difference from one another. Normally, this takes place irrespective of time and context. This article analyses political branding strategies adopted by Tanzanian politicians during the covid-19 pandemic. The analysis covers all branding cases of both individuals and parties as reported through their Facebook accounts and those of influential partisans between March and May 2020, the months that mark the start and end of covid-19 reporting in Tanzania in 2020. Coverage is made for two of Tanzania's major parties as of 2020, namely Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA). The analysis was made in line with branding features such as names, symbols, signs, and slogans as per political advertising and branding strategies. Results show that branding was made for both individual politicians and parties. Human and party brands were advertised through their aid to the economically disadvantaged population during the covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of establishing public attraction to their brands. The study uses the rational choice theory to link advertising to the political choices the public makes. Both individuals and parties labelled all their aids, especially masks and sanitisers, with their names, colours, and slogans. Some advertisements of their aids were accompanied by explanations that openly said why a party or an individual was a better choice than all others, explicitly showing their political motives. The article concludes that any event, irrespective of the impacts on the wider population, can serve political purposes, especially branding. Disasters such as pandemics come with political blessings as they offer opportunities for parties and individuals to grow their traffic. The article recommends that political moves should always focus on service to humanity than fostering their political brands.