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Lessons In Political Marketing: Will Ekiti Voters Be Swayed By Emotions Or Rationality?

By Ntia Usukuma

Ayo Fayose
Ayo Fayose

In any non- monopolistic marketplace, consumers can only be convinced through rational or emotional appeal. Rational Appeal involves persuading the consumer with logic and proofs,stating the product’s benefits, the superiority of an idea, performing a product demonstration or citing facts or statistics. However emotional appeal is played up when a brand owner turns to a variety of techniques to reach-out to the heart of consumers. In this case, most brand owners appeal to emotions like empathy, mood, sentiments, fear, sympathy, happiness and other human emotions.
Over the years, many advertising and communication experts have fallen for the belief that if they effectively project the rational benefits of their brands, the world will beat a path to their doorsteps. This seemingly effective approach in industry parlance tagged “fallacy of rationality” projects rational benefits as having unparalleled capacity to elevate brand loyalty among consumers.
However, Antonio Damasio, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern CaliforniaIn his book,Descartes Error, argues that emotion is a necessary ingredient to most decisions taken by humans. His words; “When we are confronted with a decision, emotions from previous, related experiences affix values to the options we are considering. These emotions create preferences which lead to our decision”.
In the field of politics, elections are the marketplaces where political choices and ideas are sold. Here the currency is the ballot papers. In less than two weeks, the people of Ekiti state will be going to their political market to pick the man who would govern them in the next four years. Former governor of the state and former cabinet member President Buhari, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, candidate of the APC and Governor Fayose’s deputy and  candidate of the PDP, Prof. Olusola Kolapo Eleka,  are the clear front runners.
Others like Agboola Ben, of the Alliance for Democracy, Bode Olowoporoku, of the Nigeria Democratic Congress, Akinloye Ayegbusi of the Social Democratic Party, and Dr. Sikiru Lawal, of the Labour Party will be waiting by the wings to capitalize from any slip.
Many analysts might feel that APC candidate, Governor Kayode Fayemi should have everything going for him: With the federal might, his seemingly laudable stewardship as governor for four years and the fact that he belongs to the dominant party in his region, the APC which supposedly had the South-west geopolitical zone firmly in its grip, The election, by all estimates, should be his to lose.
Such analysts should flash back four years ago when victory by the then candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Ayo Fayose, has stunned the leadership of the All Progressives Party (APC). The fight this year is virtually like that of 2014. The July 14 election is not really between Eleka and Fayemi but between Fayose and Fayemi. Eleka will be judged based on what Fayose has done in the last four years while Fayemi will be judged based on what he also did when he was in power. Just like 2014 it will also be the struggle between Physical/ rational Infrastructure and Stomach/ emotional Infrastructure.
The leading candidates in 2014 went into the elections, each presenting series of unique credentials. One won, the other lost. One theory that can help to explain the trajectory of the 2014 Ekiti election result is Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The influential role of emotion in consumer behavior is another factor that can add light to it. Let us forget the rigging allegations, except in cases of outright allocation of results which is becoming pretty difficult in Nigeria today, you can only rig where you are fairly popular.
Dr Kayode Fayemi
Dr Kayode Fayemi

In 2014 Kayode Fayemi came in with a highly commendable physical infrastructure credential with strong realistic features, easy to rationalise.
He implemented a bio-metric system which reduced ghost workers in Ekiti State Civil Service implemented an effective tax system in order to raise internally generated revenue and this saw Teachers, Civil Servants, Market Women, Artisans, Okada Riders and Farmers paying their taxes more regularly than they did in the past in order to contribute to his development agenda. This also did not go down well with the teeming population of Teachers, Farmers and Artisans in the State.
In order to give vent to his development agenda, he also did a 30 billion naira bond for his development projects, which sees the State paying 140 million naira from the State’s paltry monthly 2.5 Billion naira allocation. This also meant that there will not be enough for the corrupt political hangers-on and political leaders to share as a “carry-us along” and a stomach infrastructure incentive. Regrettably All of these were not enough to give him a second term in 2014, as the people viewed these developments as outside their needs and felt that these were white elephant projects for as long as he did not take care of “stomach infrastructure”. They therefore gave him the boots.
Let us look at  Ayo Fayose and his stomach infrastructure and emotional  strategy:
He knew his people and their needs and in fact mirrored their aspirations. He was not really loved by the elites in the State who viewed him with disdain, given that he seemed to carry-on with more brawl than brains, but the people loved because he provided the emotional appeal. He became friends with key rabble-rousers – from Okada Riders, Political Thugs, Mortor Park Touts, Corn-Sellers to Teachers and Civil Servants.
He provided bore-holes across the State in order to meet the need of the people of Ekiti for Water and implemented some popular medical programme. He intermittently visited  beer joints and Motor Parks and identified with the bottom of the pyramid so he  became regarded as one of their own. He took care of stomach infrastructure by supplying rice and other food stuffs backed with a healthy dose of money across the State. He became loved by a majority of the people and is rode triumphantly into the Ekiti State Government House in 2014
Abraham Maslow reveals that human driven by a need for love and rewards and thus identified five needs in human societies: i. Physiological Needs such as food, water and sleep. ii. Safety Needs such as security of the body, health and property
iii. Social needs such as friendship, family, belonging and identity iv. Esteem needs such as recognition, self-esteem, confidence, justice and respect v. Growth or self-actualization needs such as creativity, problem solving, art, beauty, personal fulfillment and freedom.
Over time Psychologists, Sociologists, Politicians and Nation Builders have tended to draw inspiration from Maslow’s perspective to explain linkages   between motivation and development in human societies. In the case of Ekiti in 2014, Fayemi was a leader who felt the need to move Ekiti beyond physiological needs and was in a hurry to get Ekiti into the league of Communities chasing after the fifth needs – Growth and Self-actualization.
In drawing up his development agenda, Fayemi forgot that even Maslow recognised that different societies desired different levels of needs and thus the assumption of the hierarchy is that the lower needs have to be met first, and are preconditions for the realization of the higher needs. However, Fayose, saw differently, and rather pushed to satisfy to their basic needs instead of the lofty goals Fayemi was pushing for, he pursued the loved goals of stomach infrastructure and the rest is history.
In branding, the richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user. The influential role of emotion in consumer behavior is well documented.  When evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).  Advertising research reveals that emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content – by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads. Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments which are based on a brand’s attributes.
Let us not forget that this election is still between Fayemi and Fayose. Eleka is basically a pawn on the Ekiti political chess board.
Can Fayose  keep this winning streak on July 14? Can his emotional appeal give Eleka the keys to Ekiti government house?  Because human psychology also shows that no sooner are human beings satisfied with basic needs, they begin to chase after loftier goals which are captured by the higher needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Will Ekiti voters hang in with Fayose’s emotional appeal or will they go the higher retional appeal of Fayemi? Only 14th July will tell.

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