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70 Days to Election 2012; “Moving Forward” or “Changing”???   
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Ghana’s electoral history has consistently revealed that the campaign messages and slogans are key to securing the mandate, even if the messages are populist and come along with unrealistic promises.

On the advent of the fourth republic, there were hotly contested arguments over the slogans that the main political parties employed to drive their campaign. Of notable examples were the then New Patriotic Flag bearer, Adu Boahen who tacitly approved the NPP slogan “y3 gy3 y3 man”, to wit, we are claiming our land. That slogan was discredited by the NDC then to mean ethnic-laden and divisive. Of course that helped the NDC win if not the towering figure of Rawlings at the time.

Kufour in 1996 and 2000 adopted the slogan, “Positive Change” suggesting that there was such negativity, economically, at least, that the NDC government under Rawlings had supervised, so it was time to dump the party of retrogressive. But then how sincere was the NPP’s slogan? What was so positive about its rule from 2000-2004, that they needed to use Positive Change Chapter Two as their slogan? Was the NPP that desperate for power it had to latch on to any slogan?

Nevertheless, what necessitates a campaign team to choose a Slogan ahead of an election season? Does a slogan determine chances of a political party in an election? Let me refresh your memories on some key measures for creating a compelling campaign slogan.

Joe Garecht in one if his artistic composition stated that “there are three simple communications devices that every campaign needs: a message, issues that support the message, and an effective campaign slogan. When designing a campaign slogan, the first thing to keep in mind is the campaign’s message – what is the big picture message of the campaign”?

Your campaign slogan needs to tie into your overall campaign message. Ideally, your slogan captures all of the spirit of your message in a snappier, more succinct form.

Good campaign slogans, like good campaign messages, tap into core human wants, needs, and values. What are core human values? They are those things that everyone wants and can agree on, even if we disagree on how to make those values a reality.

These values are also usually emotional, generating a “deep-down” response from voters. Some of these core values include Safety and security, social amenities, health, education among others.

Once you have sketched out the basics of your campaign slogan, figured out how to tie it to your message, and tapped into core human wants and needs, you will need to phrase your slogan in a way that makes it easy to remember. It needs to be short enough to be said in one breath, and snappy enough to be easy to say over and over again.

Sometimes, campaigns make a big mistake by thinking they are sending the right message with their campaign slogan, but actually sending an unintended (and harmful) message.

One great example of a campaign slogan that sends an unintended message is the slogan used by Bill Scranton when he ran for Governor of Pennsylvania in 2006. Scranton had been the state’s Lieutenant Governor in the 1980’s, then had left the state for some time to pursue business interests after he lost the 1986 campaign for Governor.

In 2006, his campaign decided that the message of the campaign would be that it was time for the state to bring back the businesses and people that were leaving the state, and enter a new period of prosperity. The campaign’s tagline, which fit with that message, was “PA Comeback” – the idea that Pennsylvania would stage a comeback… that its best days were ahead.

Unfortunately, the tagline also sent the unintentional message that Scranton, himself, was trying to stage a comeback. There were lots of people in the state who thought he ran a bad campaign in 1986, then left town for 20 years, and was now trying to get in too little, too late… and the campaign’s slogan reminded people of this fact.

With this, can one say, the NDC in 2000 and 2004 chose a wrong campaign slogan that did not to fair well with them in both electioneering contest, loosing to the NPP?.

“Yes, America Can” was the campaign slogan used by George walker Bush in 2004, which eventually propelled victory for him. Same can be said about Barack Obama whose “Yes We Can, Change We Can Believe In” also won him the hearts of Americans who voted massively for him to take the seat of government at the white house.

Relating these short and catchy slogans used by the forerunners of the world’s democracy that won them glory in elections, one can say, the NPP in 2000 and 2004’s positive change slogan did a good job for them.

Now in 2008, the NPP’s Flag bearer Nana Akuffo Addo and his campaign team chose MOVING FORWARD as their Campaign slogan to battle it out with the NDC’s John Mills “Yeresesamu, Better Ghana Agenda” who was competing for the highest office the third time running. Several questions come to mind as to why, the NPP chose Moving Forward whilst the NDC needed a change in their ‘’Yeresesamu’’ literally meaning we are Changing.

The NPP wanted to move forward with their political agenda, since they were in power and was seeking for re-election whilst the opposition NDC, felt the NPP faulted in their campaign message of giving them a positive change so they also needed a change,”yeresesamu”. I strongly believe that, the opposition when in government choose a slogan to suit them so they can be retained in power whilst incumbent who go to opposition also pick on the incumbents previous slogan, modernize or add a bit of flavor to it, all in the name of wrestling political power from the incumbent.

Judging from the outcome of the 2008 elections, it could clearly mean that, indeed, Ghanaians were dissatisfied with the developmental agenda of the NPP in their 8 years of governance hence they needed a change for a better Ghana. Otherwise it could also be a divine favor that smiled on the face of the NDC, whose’s charismatic and God fearing Leader John Mills, who was competing for the third and last time in his political career.

The NPP couldn’t move forward, Ghanaians needed a change and that change won laurels for the NDC that saw candidate Mills assumed the highest office of Ghana.

Another political season has come again, with barely 70 days to elections; major political parties have commenced hitting the grounds to campaign. Barely two months ago, there were scuffles and hullabaloo about a particular campaign slogan “People matter You Matter” which both the NPP and NDC accused each other of stealing the slogan.

Now the question I keep asking myself and the leaders of both NDC and NPP campaign team is, do campaign slogans win elections or a particularly catchy campaign slogan has the potential of winning an election? Why would the issue of ownership of campaign slogan escalate to the point of attracting international attention?

This issue of slogan ownership again reminds me of an assertion made by a Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Ransford Gyampo who cautioned the two major political parties in the country not to bank their hopes on slogans for victory in the December polls.

He emphasized that” even though catchy slogan makes it easier for the electorate to identify with a particular political party, it does not constitute the determining factor for a landslide victory in 2012. Gyampo indicated that” in a developing country like Ghana, the electorate are not influenced by campaign slogans but rather the policies and programmes of a political party that would improve their lives. He noted that the slogans summarize the ideologies of political parties and thus make it easier for the electorate to make a choice but not a panacea for an election victory.

“Party slogans summarize everything that a manifesto tends to represent and it becomes easy for people to accept and identify a political party with” he added.

The Political Science Lecturer who is also a fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) said the brawl for a slogan is needless since according to him, most Ghanaians have made up their minds on which party to vote for in December”

However, if Ghanaians have already made up their mind on who to vote for, then why the bickering on slogans, even though the issue has been resolved.NPP has opted to let go of the slogan which they claim its been the title of its Manifesto since 2011 While the NDC claimed the slogan is its bonafide property based on the social democratic credentials of the party.

Nonetheless, I thought the NDC would still clinch on to its Better Ghana Agenda slogan as did by the NPP in 2000 and 2004 when they maintained their slogan of Positive change 1 and Positive Change 2 in 2004 general elections. The NDC has now abandoned the Better Ghana Agenda slogan and now priding itself with People Matter You Matter slogan.

An addition to their slogan is the adoption of a telecommunications slogan ‘edey bee Keke” meaning “things are very good” which was publicly announced by President John Mahama on the day of his endorsement as the leader and flag bearer of the party for the 2012 general elections.

This adoption of edey bee keke which is waves across much of Ghana country has been sharply met with criticisms mainly from the opposition, alleging that, yes, the NDC said “edey bee keke” because they are gargantually spending tax payers’ money meant for development on themselves.

I again ask another question. Now that the NPP has chosen another slogan, “Change Now! Move Ghana Forward”, is there the likelihood that the NDC will change its slogan again or claim ownership of the new slogan of the party?

It seems the NPP has some sort of magic in the word Change, since it did wonders for them in 2000 and 2004, who knows, it may bring glory to them again come December 7 2012. Perhaps the NDC’s strategic adoption of “edey bee keke”, People matter You matter” slogan could also turn into votes to see them maintain political power for another four years.

The big question however remains: Are we “Moving Forward” or we are “Changing”?
Source: Gideon Adarkwa/Liveghanaonline.com

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