The subtler, if such a usage of the term is not a gigantic stretch of it, aspects of Mahinda’s marketing campaign are below the line. His pictures are plastered all across the country. In every junction, bus halt and home.
His brand is pretty much stamped into the public conscience; the white robe, the red sash, the smile, the hands placed together and held up high, the moustache; the combination of it all. He is consistent. And consistency pays off.
But it takes more than mere consistency to pull off a great branding campaign. It takes promotions and infrastructure. There are probably regionally organized poster campaigns distributing pictures of Mahinda to households all over the country. The patriot affect comes into play then and people feel odd to not put up a picture of him when all their neighbours are rocking one.
He’s got endorsements. Actually his endorsements are endorsements in themselves; Small town MPs proudly display billboards of themselves with Mahinda. The MP in question usually has an orgasmic looking expression on his face.
All this of course, is secondary to the tremendous propaganda machine of state controlled mainstream media.
He has penetrated the socio political infrastructure to such an extent that no politician without an endorsement from the president can expect to rise to any kind of power or influence in their respective constituencies. Even though this kind of thing has happened before, Mahinda’s current exposure is almost unprecedented in Sri Lankan history.
All for power
What is the aim of all this? To consolidate power? Ah yes! Ten points if you thought of that one. The Rajapakse name will soon dominate all post war memory. The erasure of the names of Sarath Fonseka and the rest of the significant players from the Great Victory is almost complete. History is usually the victor’s propaganda afterall.
His success at this will depend on the forthcoming years. If he is able to be a good peacetime president and manages to revive the economy and genuinely set the country on the road to economic prosperity (just as he managed to genuinely win the war) people will undoubtedly remember him as a great president who singlehandedly brought us peace and prosperity.
But what of his kingly ambitions I hear you ask, well Sri Lankans have been monarchists for longer than they have been republicans, so it probably makes sense to market yourself as a king to appeal to the larger public’s subconscious sentiment. It is also a call to perpetual leadership. And the overall goal is to set the path for a long and successful line up of progeny and Sri Lanka’s next great political family to keep being powerful players for a good while to come.
Either that, or the answer to all this is that he doesn’t know anything about what’s going on and people are branding him out of their own free will. An insane theory for which the most appropriate response would be ‘yeah right’.