Metrolife: Secrets your netas never reveal

On his Karnataka campaign, Prime Minister Modi has worn a Mysuru turban, quoted Kannada poets and met Karnataka holy men.

High-decibel election campaigns ride on leaders’ charisma and style. That’s where ‘image consulting’ and ‘reputation management’ comes in. Politicians pay good money to appear winsome.

Renju Joseph set up Ace Infinity nine years ago. From makeovers to campaign regulation, his team does it all.

“I call it ‘reputation management’; it is so much more than PR,” he says, adding that he has 27 clients on his list. He caters to multiple parties and diverse sensibilities.

A K Mishra, political consultant, says brand building in politics means helping leaders connect with individual voters.

“We have to play up the USP of a particular leader or party. Understanding the working of the political ecosystem, developing different kinds of strategic options, implementation and execution of the strategy, assigning responsibility to cadres, and making use of technology are some of our duties,” he explains.

Makeover

When it comes to clothes makeovers, consultants align their clients with the climate as well as the people they are trying to connect with.

“In many cases, candidates have to present a toned-down image. We don’t make them stand out, they just have to be part of the crowd,” Renju says.

Fabrics like jute, cotton and khadi are recommended, since the leaders are out in the sun.

“They have to carry a change of clothes when they go out. The garments are all in white, with the stole being the party colour,” he says.

After the results are announced, the clothes are set to undergo a drastic change. “Then they wear clothes that are more arrogant. Bold colours and better fabrics like raw silk are seen a lot,” he says.

Once the clothes are sorted, Renju’s team gets into the finer details of the campaign. “We follow our clients, and watch who they are meeting. We also help them with their speeches and camera profile. We make sure that the light is right because that is key for the videos we put out. Also, we teach them to pose,” he says.

Adds Mishra, “We do a scientific analysis of the image or character that a politician or political party has and also what is needed for a particular electorate or environment.”

Leaders are tutored to deliver speeches in an effective manner.

“There are more than 50 aspects they have to take care of — from the movement of their arms, eye contact, dialogue delivery style, dress sense,” he says.

Leaders have to modify their emotions and body language keeping in mind the mood of the audience.

“We tell them what kind of emotion to put in between lines, where their pitch should be controlled, where they have to raise their voice, where there should be angry.... Hundred per cent execution is not possible but they do try to follow what we tell them,” he adds.

Social media

Handling of social media is also the job of consultants.

“We don’t try to bash the opponents too much, but certain clients say it is necessary. We go according to their wishes, even though that’s against our principles,” Mishra says.

 Crowd connect is an area in which candidates are briefed thoroughly by their consultants.

“The requirements, sentiments and parameters differ from area to area. A Lingayat-dominated area requires a different analysis from a constituency that has a majority of Vokkaligas. Every voter will have a particular image of a candidate in mind. We have to erase that and make a new image,” says Mishra.

Indiranagar vs Ulsoor

Consultants recommend a different visual pitch for each neighbourhood. When we go to Indiranagar, people want our candidates to be somewhat like them. Which is why we make them wear khadis and T-shirts. In Ulsoor, candidates are leaders people look up to. At the same time, if the candidates go there in an Audi, it leads to rebellion. So we tone down even the vehicles they travel in,” says a consultant.

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