1) Be authentic right from the start. Roxas came out as authentic, sincere, and honest right after his talk hosted by the Makati Business Club, and that was on March 30, 2016. It was already too late in the game and not enough to erase his previous “artista” image that was all about pretentious role-playing. Political image is all about who you really are. Filipinos could forgive Duterte’s cussing and crassness because he was just being himself. Without authenticity, voters will feel they are being fooled or lied to.
2) Oppose hate with hate. Duterte’s rise as a political brand began during the laglag-bala incident. I have numerous posts about it. I still believe to this day that it was part of “our brand is crisis” propaganda. Remember most airport employees were not Roxas supporters. That sudden laglag-bala incident was the boiling point of Filipino’s hatred towards the government. What they emotionally felt could have been deflected if only the government tried to unravel the “inside job” nature of the modus, but it did not.
3) Be active on social media. Roxas was late in using social media in his campaign. Elections all over the world are lost and won on social media, and that is a political reality. This is the thing about Facebook or Twitter: it is a network of real people who cast votes, politically mobilize, and extend their political sentiments beyond the internet. I saw that among the overseas Filipino workers. They were active on social media and beyond. They talked to their relatives and convinced their friends.
4) Address fear with fear. I have numerous posts regarding the effectiveness of fear-based campaign. Duterte successfully used drugs and crimes to scare voters in his campaign. Roxas could have used the “red peril” or the danger of socialism to counter it. Crisis as a political brand is fear-based, and it always works among the uneducated, irrational masses. I did wonder why Roxas’ camp did nothing but let his opponent’s “drug and crime” fear spread like wild fire. It was a blunder.
5) Disassociate yourself from a ruined brand. Duterte’s camp effectively destroyed the “Tuwid na Daan” political brand. I have numerous posts about it that recognize that brand as a political liability not an asset. If it were a marketing issue, associating yourself with it would be a business suicide. Guess what, election is all about political marketing and propaganda as political advertisements. Although I firmly believe in the goodness of “Tuwid na Daan”, I can say it was one of the reasons why Roxas lost the presidency.
6) Attack memes with memes. Attacking short memes with long data does not make sense. It is akin to serving tiramisu to the people whose taste buds are only good for rice cake. Roxas’ data-based memes and infographics came later in the game. The minds of Filipino voters were already poisoned by fabricated stories, fake images, and invented “facts”. You just cannot remain smart when the people you want to convince are dumb. They are not interested to know the truth but to believe even in lies.
7) Use a political language that does not alienate. “Disente” was a huge political marketing failure. “Marangal” should have been vigorously used instead. The very linguistic nature of the word “disente” is elitist and colonial. It originated from the Spanish word “decente”, which means decent, upright, and proper–the sophistication of the colonialists. “Disente” alienated the Filipino masses who viewed themselves as the opposite of that word. After all, they are those whose tongues are used to saying “putang ina”.
8) Counter black propaganda with black propaganda. A black propaganda is unleashed to destroy a political image. In a country like the Philippines, where most voters are still politically immature and prefer personality over platform, black propaganda–real or imagined–are effective. Whoever thinks that issue-based campaign will work in the Philippines is naive and wishful. Also, such propaganda is “black” because politics is dirty, and it is not for priests and professors. It is also a “gory cockfight” entertainment among the masses.
9) Release exposés in monthly increments. For an exposé to be effective, it should be talked about on social media for weeks or even months. What Trillanes did was an overkill–numerous allegations at the eleventh hour. Voters, even if the exposés were true, ended up dismissing them and asking why they only came out right before the election day. What happened next was that they sympathized with Duterte more because he came off as the maltreated and the oppressed plus they already made up their minds.
10) Refute issues with issues. Last election, federalism was widely talked about, and there was no effective anti-federalism response. It could have been shut or toned down by explaining that it could not be feasible due to the poor local economies of many regions not financially ready yet for autonomous statehood. Perhaps a video of an expert talking about its non-feasibility would have helped voters who were trying to gather information about federalism on social media. It was a missed opportunity.