Magazine article Marketing

Real Winners in Italy's Elections

Magazine article Marketing

Real Winners in Italy's Elections

Article excerpt

It is, we are told, a victory for marketing rather than politicians. Silvio Berlusconi's two-month-old Freedom Alliance swept into power in Italy on Tuesday atop a wave of advertising and promotion.

How, asked his disconsolate left-wing rivals, could he lay claim to heading a credible political party after just eight weeks? Surely he had simply pandered to popular instinct?

What Berlusconi has done is precisely that. But what is disturbing is not that he has done so, but that the classic marketing strategy of finding out what people want and then giving it to them at a price they can afford is seen to be somehow at odds with traditional politics. It as though some political commentators find it slightly distasteful that anything so vulgar as popular opinion should interfere with the electoral process.

There are real concerns about Berlusconi's application of marketing disciplines to the wider world, and they stem from a misconception about the purpose, and the effectiveness, of marketing. It is, as any brand manager will testify, next to impossible to lead people to buy something they don't want.

Good marketing is about making sure that the products offered fit a need, or at least a desire. Brilliant marketing is about realising a latent desire before anyone else. Few people in Britain would have thought, 20 years ago, that we would have been prepared to pay 70p for a bottle of water when the stuff pours from our taps, free at the point of purchase. No one is forced to buy fizzy water. …

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