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The ‘Normal Paradigm’ of Political Marketing: A Case of Incommensurability with Theories of Democracy?

Stephan C. Henneberg Manchester Business School University of Manchester Margaret Scammell London School of Economics Department of Media & Communications Nick J. O’Shaughnessy Queen Mary University of London

Paper presented at the International Symposiumon Political Marketing Brno, Czech Republic, 8 Oct. 2009

Note: This paper is based on a published article by Henneberg, Scammell, O’Shaughnessy (2009), Political Marketing Management and Theories of Democracy, Marketing Theory, 9 (2), 165-189. The copyright for the articles remains with the authors.


Author Information
Professor Stephan C. Henneberg is Professor of Marketing and Strategy at the Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester, UK. His research interests are in the areas of strategic marketing, relational marketing, consumer behaviour, and social and political marketing. He publishes regularly on political marketing, e.g. in the Journal of Marketing Management, European Journal of Marketing, Marketing Theory, Journal of Political Marketing , and Journal of Public Affairs. Stephan has organised several international academic conferences and PhDcolloquia on political marketing. He has edited a book of readings on “The Idea of Political Marketing”, Praeger, 2002, together with N. O’Shaughnessy. Contact information: Dr. Stephan C. Henneberg, Manchester Business School, Booth Street West, Manchester M15 6PB, United Kingdom, Tel.: +44-(0)161-306 3465, EMail: Dr. Margaret Scammell is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at the London School of Economics. Her current research interests are political branding, campaigning, political journalism and broad aspects of media and democracy. She is the author of ‘Designer Politics’, 1995, and co-author of ‘On-Message: Communicating the Campaign’, 1999 and ‘Media, Journalism and Democracy’, 2000. Contact information: Dr Margaret Scammell, Department of Media and Communication, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, United Kingdom, Tel.: +44-7955 6495, E-mail: Professor Nicholas J. O’Shaughnessy is Professor of Marketing and Communication at Queen Mary, University of London, and is Quondam Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge University. Previously he was Director of the Centre for Research in Consumer and Social Marketing at Brunel University Business School; and he is the author of a number of books on marketing and political marketing, and numerous journal articles. His latest book, “Politics and Propaganda, Weapons of Mass Seduction”, has just been published by the University of Michigan Press and the University of Manchester Press. Contact information: Professor Nick O’Shaughnessy, School of Management, Queen Mary, London University, Mile End Road, London E14NS. Tel 0207 723 1437, EMail:


Political marketing management is often criticised for devaluing democratic processes. However, no literature exists which outlines different concepts of democracies and systematically juxtaposes them with political marketing management in its varied conceptual and practical facets. In this article, we outline three different perspectives, i.e. a selling-oriented, an instrumentally-oriented, and a relational political marketing management, and analyse their compatibility with two different concepts of democracy, specifically competitive elitism, and deliberative democracy. We discuss implications of political marketing vis-à-vis the theory of democracy as well as necessary further research. We find that while certain political marketing management perspectives are associated with different theories of democracy, the current normal paradigm of marketing theory shows the least overlap with democratic theories.

Political Marketing; Democracy; Competitive Elitism; Participatory Democracy


what it clear is that political marketing often evokes negative feelings and is assumed to be harmful for politics and democratic systems (Dermody and Scullion. However. the fear is for politics itself. provokes profound anxiety. Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy. transformed from what should rightly be a quest for a 4 . The distinction between political marketing. 2002. to paraphrase Werner Sombart (1915). 2007). marketing theorists are concerned with more theoretical shortcomings in the theory of political marketing. perceived to be that of the trivial and superficial in contrast with the spiritual and substantial. 1999). 2003. 2005). At its most extreme. Henneberg (2004) has collected and catalogued some of these criticisms by political scientists as well as marketing theorists: while political scientists mostly focus on ethical aspects of political marketing management practice. or political communication is not always clear and often obscured by overlapping interpretations. it is a term more often used in academia and practice in Europe than in the US (Scammell. i.e. Moloney and Colmer.The ‘Normal Paradigm’ of Political Marketing: A Case of Incommensurability with Theories of Democracy? Uneasy Partners: Political Marketing and Politics Political marketing means many things to many people. 2001. 2001. Lilleker. political management. Especially the lack of a clear and consistent position of political marketing vis-à-vis political practice on the one hand and democratic fundamentals on the other are discussed as shortcoming which hold back the research area of political marketing (O’Shaughnessy. In general. In general. the merging of the two worlds of marketing and politics. questioning the use of political marketing instruments during election campaigning. The use of marketing instruments in politics is argued to imply atrophy and aberration.

we posit that a critique of political marketing management needs to be underpinned by a clear understanding of the conceptual complexity of the phenomenon in question as well as by a rigorous analysis of the yardstick that is employed. e. 6). 1991. knowledgeable and participating electorate. Henneberg. However. 1997. on the other hand political marketing has been discussed in a more positive light. but rather against the real world of relatively low interest and knowledge in politics. Furthermore. However. Bannon (2005). 2006). Johansen (2005). Therefore.g. even essential. Corner. equally it may undermine the courage necessary for political leadership (Klein.common vision of the just. Scammell. This ‘realist’ strand of research claims that marketing of some sort may be valuable. 2003. We therefore attempt to fill a gap in the literature which hitherto has hindered further conceptual development of the area of political marketing as well as cross- 5 . 1991: Bauman. encourages voters to judge politicians in terms of the selfish rewards of consumer purchase (Qualter. Political marketing. political marketing should not be judged against ideal and impossible standards of a perfectly informed. Existing literature in political marketing and political science does not engage with the epistemological foundations of political marketing management but remains concerned with specific applications and tools (Wring. as O’Shaughnessy (1990) put it “The answer to the ethical question [regarding political marketing] depends on the views of democracy we hold” (p. Wring. noble and good into the private and often irrational whimsy of consumerism. it is argued. 2003). for promoting voter interest and involvement (Popkin. 1997. or Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy (2008) argue that a relationship-building approach of political marketing could well provide a basis for more meaningful interactions between voters and political institutions. 2005). 2008).

research in this area also ought to be concerned 6 . Laczniak and Murphy. 2006. Following on. What we will not attempt is an in-depth discussion of ethical issues. However. axiomatic philosophical judgements. associated with this juxtaposition (Hunt and Vittell 1986. and discuss implications for research in the area of political marketing. secondly. it consists of explanatory constructs for political marketing management activities as employed by political actors in practice. In a conclusion section we will synthesise our findings and their consequences. derived from theoretical vantage points. i. Two different normative concepts of democracy will subsequently enable a juxtaposition of political marketing management on the one hand and democratic theories on the other.disciplinary interactions between marketing theory and political science. Henneberg. The ‘Status’ of Political Marketing Management in Politics Political Marketing as an academic discipline ‘works’ on two levels: firstly. Our contribution is based on a discussion of different aspects of political marketing management vis-à-vis key concepts of democracy in order to provide a rich and rigorous juxtaposition of the compatibility or incompatibility between them. we are interested in whether the current ‘dominant paradigm’ of (political) marketing management is commensurable with theories of democracy. an analysis of the characteristics of three distinct concepts of political marketing management is introduced. 2007. it represents an exchange or interaction-based research lens to explain the political sphere per se (Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy. we will briefly discuss the status of political marketing management with regards to politics in the next section. 2007). exemplified in a categorisation scheme. We will structure our argument as follows: to specify and motivate our research. Specifically. Nill and Schibrowsky. 2008).e.

2002). is not a monolithic bloc of unambiguous definitions. Egan.. such as whether it is ethical to focus only on ‘floating voters’ in a targeted election strategy (Baines et al. clear aims and aligned activities.with the general ‘fit’ of the concepts of political marketing management in relation to the research phenomenon in question (Lock and Harris. such as voter-orientation. 1988. 2005). the initial conceptual question about the relationship of political marketing and democracy needs to be related to each of these concepts of political marketing management. Lees-Marshment. More specifically. and what exactly is ‘political marketing management’ in this context? Thus. 7 . Newman. or marketorientation (O’Cass. 2001. Scammell. we focus on three distinct concepts of a marketing-orientation in politics which span the space of possible options: a ‘sellingoriented’ concept of political marketing management. Below. 2002. The point of departure of this argument is the fundamental question regarding the integrity of political marketing management (O’Shaughnessy. an ‘instrument-mix-oriented’ concept. Ormrod. Political marketing management and its theoretical and conceptual foundations. 1999). 2003). Lilleker. This goes beyond more specific questions about the applicability of political marketing activities in politics. there is somehow not enough clarity regarding the constructs concerned: what do we mean by ‘democracy’. 1996. When posing the question in this way. 2007). 1983. Thus. Wilkie and Moore. political marketing research needs to be concerned with issues of democracy in general and its commensurability with political marketing management and its underlying concepts. this question quickly disintegrates into more complex sub-questions once the two main components are scrutinised. but comprises many different ‘schools’ (Hunt. 2002. Sheth et al. following marketing theory. 1996. 2001. 1979.. 1999. and a ‘relationship-building’ concept which is also informed by societal marketing considerations.

one needs to consider which of the many expressions and principles of democracy are used. 2007). Arndt. 1983). 1976. micro-economical theory. are we talking about the ideals of deliberative democracy or the norms of ‘realist models’? Again. and one of theories of democracies) and their interrelations (Hunt. Concepts of Political Marketing Management Political Marketing Management (PMM) provides a theoretical umbrella for different applications of marketing concepts within the political sphere. for the purpose of our subsequent argument. this too is a contested and fragmented construct (Cunningham. in line with the multi-faceted nature of commercial schools of marketing. we will focus on just two influential schools of democracy to illustrate our points: the ‘competitive elitist’ approach. However.g. 1983. and the ‘deliberative’ concept of democracy. Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy. Many of them are inspired by social exchange theory. and Garrett in 1988 identified twelve different schools of marketing. Such juxtaposing analysis will allow us to provide a discussion of political marketing management not just on an ‘activity’ level but on a ‘conceptual’ and therefore more general level. that of democracy. 1983. Sheth. 1999. it is equally clear that conceptually. 2002). No singular approach to PMM exists. Furthermore. it also provides alternative benchmarks through the explicit use of a set of normative ‘versions’ of democracy (Scammell. 2004). To judge the ‘affinity’ of political marketing management against a democratic ‘yardstick’. since then several other conceptual schools of commercial marketing have come to the forefront 8 . or institutional political economy (Alderson and Martin. Gardner. e. Our analysis is therefore grounded in two parsimonious categorisation schemes (one of political marketing management concepts. Pandya and Dholakia.Moving to the second core component. Hunt. 1992. Hyman. 1965.

Furthermore. We select and define three distinct schools of PMM that cover the spectrum and richness of marketing approaches to politics: 9 . 1996. Butler and Collins. 1996. As in the case of marketing theory. 1999. Henneberg.g. For a juxtaposition of political marketing management and democratic theory. 2006). 1994. it has been argued that it is incommensurable with pivotal marketing concepts like customer-orientation. 1995.g. and that it is merely a pedagogic tool (Easton and Araujo. Shaw and Jones. or network marketing approach for organisational interactions (Andersen et al. Parvatiyar and Sheth. Wring. 2001. Although marketing theory is dominated by the ‘instrumental’ or ‘managerial’ school as the normal paradigm. by strategic positioning approaches (e. LeesMarshment. This is represented in the extant literature by analyses of communication-based campaigning approaches (e. we have to be precise about the characteristics of PMM as represented by different. it has been questioned if the managerial school of marketing is in line with the richness of social exchange theory underlying marketing thought (Grönroos. 1998. Lees-Marshment’s (2001) conceptualisation of product. a similar variety of approaches exist in PMM.. Newman. Scammell. often incompatible concepts. 1994. 1999. However. 1990. O’Shaughnessy. Ormrod 2007).g. O’Malley and Patterson. 2001. Harris et al. or by concepts based on the organisational attitudes and behaviours in their relationship with external and internal political stakeholders (e. market(ing)-oriented parties. 2005.of academic research or practical application: for example relational marketing. Grönroos.g. 2002. 2000).. 2005). sales. that it is simplistic. 2005). Baines. and. 1994. 1994. e. only a few categorisation attempts exist which provide a comparison of different political marketing management approaches. Kavanagh. 2001. 2001. O’Cass. 2006). 2002.

The selling-oriented PMM is most often equated with a traditional. slogans. It has been argued that this meant that political management mattered more than political marketing (Wring. 2005). 1996. 2005). typically Green parties or regional parties. because they are based on state-of-the-art research discussions.e. Henneberg. focussing on policies which are derived from a belief in environmental sustainability. The German Green party campaigns offer a illustrative example. 2006). often characterised by an alignment with certain interests within dominant or social cleavages. 10 . and region (Lipset and Rokkan. A ‘market-leading’ perspective and a predominantly tactical use of political marketing instruments characterises this approach (Henneberg. and the electoral and campaign activities are derived from solid political convictions. such as class. ethnicity. ideology-oriented approach to politics (Kavanagh. 1966). such as Plaid Cymru. posters. and (in America) the 30 second spot replacing the rally and the speaker meeting (O’Shaughnessy. A sellingoriented PMM is often seen as the ‘first age’ of political marketing.• • • Selling-Orientated PMM Instrumentally-Oriented PMM Relational PMM These approaches have been chosen because they exemplify ideal types of orientations. while at the same time using selected political marketing instruments (Blühdorn and Szarka. 2004). Examples of a selling-oriented PMM are now often found in primary-issue parties. The political offering. 1990. and because they constitute the dominating paradigmata for research and practice in this area. 2002). the policy promises. i. exemplified by the use of party political broadcasts.

direct as well as indirect stakeholder interests are considered) (Laczniak and Murphy. 2005). 2006). a voter and citizen-inclusive approach to policy implementation (Johansen. Kang and James. 2002). 2001.e. This is inspired by societal marketing considerations (Ward and Lewandowska. 2006). or a ‘following’ mentality as a radical interpretation of a voterorientation (Henneberg. and implement political marketing campaigns effectively and efficiently through the co-ordinated use of a multitude of political marketing instruments (Lees-Marshment. based on delivering on promises. 2006). The emphasis is on long-term exchange interactions that benefit all relevant actors as well as society (i. 1998. Tony Blair’s first UK General Election campaign represents an example of such ‘focus-group’-driven campaigning (Wring. Value considerations are linked to an acknowledgement of the (inter-)dependency of all involved exchange partners and are therefore grounded in mutual benefits as well as societal needs. 2008). 2002. 2005). This is in line with ‘market-led’ approaches of strategic marketing (Slater and Narver. An instrumental approach can mean a focus on short-term expediency with emphasis on responding to tracking polls and public opinions. 2006. 2005). To make the relational approach to PMM operational. a relational approach to PMM has been advocated (Bannon. it 11 . however.e. Wring. Instrumentally-oriented PMM describes an amalgam of techniques and a formulaic approach to the implementation of the marketing concept (Johansen. adapt the offering to target segment preferences. A sophisticated and managerial use of political marketing activities and strategies is employed to convince voters of the value of the political offering. Recently. 1999). 2007) which have also been advocated in the political sphere (Henneberg.The instrumentally-oriented PMM can be characterised as the ‘normal paradigm’ of current research in political marketing. Newman. 2005. Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy. i.

and cover elements of the strategy on which the specific PMM is based. In the following discussion. Brian Wheeler. we will focus particularly on the differences between these schools of PMM. To juxtapose these three distinct approaches. with no mention of party. the envisaged characteristics of the underlying political exchanges. 16 th April 2008). ------------------------------ 12 . and the specific activity patterns associated with the relevant PMM (see table 1). This enabled the campaign to ensure crowds wherever their candidate appeared. and it may be seen as fostering the illusion of participation. only candidate. with more than 9000 members. Ken Livingstone’s team offered sympathetic bloggers special information and interviews with their candidate: his focus was on personality cult.has to go beyond the cosmetics and the superficial (such as the silver wedding card from President Bush recently received by the family of one of these authors). While none of this really amounts to Political Relationship Marketing in any finished sense. some pivotal characteristics are selected which emphasise the essence of the different PMM concepts. For example. organised via Face Book or Twitter or text message (BBC News Website. These dimensions are used to describe typical and therefore to some extent generic aspects. it nevertheless establishes a trajectory along which we are being driven towards relational interactions in politics. The candidates had some success in building relationships: A U-Tube video of Conservative candidate Boris Johnson received more than a million hits. The current London mayoral campaign is evidence of how far relationship oriented political marketing is being advanced. as well as personalized letters to all Londoners. social networking sites and U-Tube have all been used extensively by the candidates. and his campaign created an online supporters network called Team Boris. E-mails and text messages.

or ‘swing seats’. i. and assesses the trade-offs between short-term and long-term effects. a uni-directional and episode-based exchange. Consequently. focusing on election campaigns. This is in line with a conviction-based definition of 13 . these political actors use PMM as a peripheral and tactical tool of politics.e. as well as service delivery in politics (Smith and Hirst.e. puts an ideology or conviction first. A relational approach enhances this perspective in line with a wider societal orientation which also incorporates the interests of stakeholders which are not direct exchange partners. While this implies a differentiated targeting approach covering core and periphery actors. specifically for the relational political marketing management concept which perceives marketing strategy as the guiding principle of offering creation. 2006) . i. while PMM is central for the two other approaches. 2001. and what time perspective underpins the different approaches. Henneberg. An undifferentiated targeting of voters who are aligned with the core offering is to be expected for selling-oriented political organisations. For a selling-oriented PMM approach. instrumentally-oriented PMM is focused on a deep understanding of primary stakeholders. on what aspects value considerations are based.Insert Table 1 about here -----------------------------With regard to the strategic dimensions the three PMM rationales differ: while a selling-oriented approach is offering focused. The exchange dimensions of PMM are concerned with what kind of interaction is facilitated by the specific approach. specifically target voters’ needs and wants. is characteristic. the instrumentally-oriented PMM focuses pragmatically on those decisive voter segments which need to be convinced in order to achieve the organisational aims. stakeholder interaction. main target segments are ‘floating or indecisive voters’.

e. communication. and long-term relationship and stakeholder management. such as governing and policy implementation as part of societal interactions. continuously ongoing) portfolio of marketing activities. and implementation. with a societally-mediated value concept as its foundation (Newman. the underlying exchange value concept derives its content from the current needs of specific groups of voters or the general prevailing public opinion. Held’s (1996) influential categorisation identified six broad groups of 14 . the relational PMM concept stresses the long-term perspective. and market-based policy development. ‘Democracy’. This contrast with the more limited activity dimension set of the other two approaches: while the instrumental PMM orientation focuses specifically on communication. We are concerned now with how these approaches intersect theoretically with democracy. On the other hand. Scammell. Concepts of Democracy The previous discussion has outlined the differences between three approaches of using marketing for the management of a political organisation. Relational political marketing management is based on a comprehensive and ‘permanent’ (i. 1984). a selling-oriented PMM predominantly uses communication activities. including policy development. 2005. specifically deployed in a push-marketing setting for election campaigns (Bannon. 2005). An instrumentally-oriented PMM shows some similarities. in practice and value components. 1999. A dialogue with changing agenda-setting functions between different interaction partners is envisaged. However. 1994. 1999). intelligence gathering. including besides elections also other interaction processes. Johansen. does not exist as a single universally agreed model (Lijphart.

Modern theories of participatory democracy emerged in part as a reaction against competitive elitism. Competitive elitism. New Left participatory and New Right democracies). deliberative democracy is the most influential in political communication research. we focus here on only two. For reasons of clarity and parsimoniousness. Each arises out of particular intellectual traditions and spawns its own set of internal arguments. 1998: 168) 15 . which we acknowledge but cannot encompass here (for discussions. This will enable us to shed conceptual light on the relative importance of political marketing management. Its insistent realism. see Held.democracy (including direct. has provided the touchstone for arguments about the nature of democracy for more than fifty years. Habermas’s idea of the public sphere. equality. has been an extraordinarily influential model in Western democratic theory (Scammell. of the various versions of participatory democracy. republican. 2000). by common consent. and to assess how the demands of democracy are met or threatened by the three particular approaches of political marketing management outlined above. a core concept of deliberative democracy. 1996). elitist. critics would say pessimism. The prime reasons for our selection are that these two conceptions represent the broad spectrum of contemporary debate in democratic theory. We concentrate on the following conceptions of democracy: • • Competitive elitism (particularly as expounded by Joseph Schumpeter) Deliberative democracy (particularly as introduced by Jürgen Habermas) These conceptions cover widely different normative beliefs about the essence of democracy and how democracy ought to function. concepts which each differ with respect to emphasis on core ideas of participation. liberty. and the democratic process. leadership. “ ballooned into the new God-term” of critical analysis over the course of the 1990’s (Gitlin.

Socialism and Democracy’ (originally published in 1942) remains the most influential account of democratic elitism. 1942: 251). 1987). recognition of this unavoidable fact is essential for the establishment of the normatively desirable. Questions of principle were irreconcilable “ because ultimate values and our conceptions of what life and society should be and are beyond mere logic ” (Schumpeter. and the realization of human potential. Schumpeter begins from a rejection of what he calls the ‘classical doctrine of democracy’. popular sovereignty. Its most durable claim is the inevitable stratification of society between rulers and the ruled. from Plato’s ‘The Republic’. through to early 20th Century ‘Italian school’ descendants. His chief criticisms centre on ‘the will of the people’ and the ‘common good’: he argued that the classics had overestimated the possibilities of both. and Michels (Blaug and Schwarzmantel. He also disparaged the very idea of the will of the people: if it was to command respect. There was no such thing as the common good to which all people could agree by force of rational argument. 2001). Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’. The elitists’ answer relies on ‘realism’: history and social science demonstrate the presence of a ruling class in all political organisms (Dunleavy and O’Leary. Furthermore. Elite theory is often disliked because of its profound pessimism about democratic possibilities. it required a level of knowledge and rational ability in individual human beings that simply did not exist among the masses. equality.Competitive elitism The conception of democratic competitive elitism is based on elite theory which has an impressive heritage in political thought. Pareto. in which elected representatives realize the common good by carrying out the will of the people. Schumpeter’s ‘Capitalism. notably Mosca. namely that governing should be in the hands of those most fit to rule. and rejection of the grander liberal and socialist ideals of freedom. In reality the 16 .

emphasizing the importance of leadership. Democracy becomes an arrangement for arriving at political decisions. As Shapiro (2002) notes. Secondly. which was neglected in classic theory. Delli Carpini and Keeter. is reduced to a method for the periodic and peaceful transfer of government between two or more groups of leaders. in short.will of the people was little more than “… an indeterminate bundle of vague impulses loosely playing about given slogans and mistaken impressions” (253). 1996). Schumpeter’s durability resides primarily in two factors: firstly. in which leaders acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for people’s votes. Norris’s (2004) study of some three dozen parliamentary and presidential elections concurs: the detail of “electoral systems may appear unduly technical and dry” but matter significantly 17 . Democracy. The most that can be expected of democracy is that it may choose the most competent leaders and provide mechanisms for controlling their excesses. the considerable body of evidence which continues to show that despite apparent improvements in education. large minorities of the population (about one third in the USA) have little interest in or knowledge of politics (Bennett. According to Schumpeter this greatly improves the theory of the democratic process. yet these are vital for structuring power relations and limiting interference with individual and/or group pursuit of their versions of the good life. It states also that the method of competition for leadership is crucial to democracy: the process must be generally accepted as fair. theorists are often discomforted by the competitive elitist tendency to reduce democracy to procedures.1988. he compels attention to the quality of the electoral systems and processes. Schumpeter reverses the order of classical liberal theory in which the people elect representatives who then give effect to the will of the people. if not perfect. The role of the people is to produce a government that takes it upon itself to establish the common good.

-----------------------------Insert Table 2 about here -----------------------------Participatory/Deliberative democracy Contrasting with this view. and instead located the major threat to modern democracy in “mediocrity and the danger that it might destroy its own leaders” (Pateman. participation is necessary only to the extent that it is sufficient to ensure the legitimacy and stability of the democratic system as a whole. deliberative democracy emerged as a distinctive strand of the New Left backlash against Schumpeter’s pessimistic portrait of democratic possibilities. 1970: 10-11). For the New Left. however. properly conceived. Pateman argued that the Schumpeterian legacy had abandoned a central democratic tenet: the insistence on participation. Democratic politics. the concept of participation is clearly differentiated from the far more limited pluralist concerns to increase voter engagement with politics. is about self-development of citizens. and for the effective health of democratic institutions around the world” (264). Participationists dispute the ‘realist’ assumptions of 18 . Led by Pateman’s (1970) seminal work. participation is itself a goal. for patterns of participation and party competition. Pateman argues that the pluralists’ concern is essentially with stability: that is.for “basic issues of political representation and accountability. the main characteristics are summarized in table 2. While expressing some concern with voter apathy. To juxtapose this democratic perspective with a diametrically opposed conception. For participationists. they offered no account for it. fostering concern for collective problems and enabling the development of an active and knowledgeable citizenry. the New Left argued that the Schumpeter-influenced ‘contemporary model’ of liberal democracy was excessively afraid of the dangers of popular active participation.

Deliberative democracy “represents an exciting development in political theory” (Bohman and Rehg. rational. unusually for democratic theory. Habermas’ conception of deliberative democracy. On the contrary. but dispute that they must always be low. deliberation about its own governance.elite theory. deliberative theorists argue that democratic legitimacy depends precisely on a rational consensus of public opinion (see table 2). inspired by Rousseau’s republicanism. 2000. It demands a commitment to democratic processes that ensures that the people are the authors of the laws that govern them: in short. is the best known of these theories (Calhoun. This is not surprising because.). and that the public is not capable of rationality. Its power stems both from its critique of the failures 19 . has had a huge impact on political communication scholarship (Scammell. 1996: 22). they accept that the actual levels of knowledge and participation are low. For Habermas. Habermas’s version of deliberative democracy. The stress on participation as deliberative communication or dialogue is the main contribution of deliberative democracy. citizen status should mean more than the protection of private rights and periodical voting opportunities. a public in continuous. 1997: ix): it reclaims the classic idea that democratic government should embody the will of the people. It rejects Schumpeter’s view that there is no such thing as a common will. and that such low levels are compatible with genuine democracy. 1992). i. a healthy public sphere with a “guarantee of an inclusive opinion. it places communication (via Habermas’s conception of the public sphere) at its core.e.and will-formation in which free and equal citizens reach an understanding on which goals and norms lie in the equal interest of all” (Habermas. In essence legitimate lawmaking results in this view from the public deliberation of citizens.

followed by instrumental and finally relational orientation) to facilitate an assessment of their relationship vis-à-vis each other. Relationships between PMM and Democracy It now remains to be seen how the three distinct concepts of political marketing management relate to the two selected theories of democracy. and from its sheer optimism. which actively encourages little or no participation from citizens between formal elections. that given conducive conditions.of existing democratic practice. 2003). i. The need for political salesmanship stemmed both from the logic of competition and from the passive and largely uninterested state of the electorate which needed 20 . 1990). Barber contrasts his model of strong democracy to what he calls the ‘thin’ democracy of Schumpeter-influenced liberalism. characterized by declining participation and increasing public dissatisfaction with the formal institutions of politics. with specific focus on the current ‘normal paradigm’ of PMM. His attraction for political marketing scholars is that he is among the first and most important political theorists to argue that elections were analogous to sales in commercial markets (Street. is arguably the most important practicallyoriented intervention in favour of deliberative democracy.e. The following provides a juxtaposition of them (progressing from a discussion of the selling orientation. although as often as not he is cited without any acknowledgement of the elitist underpinnings of his ideas (O’Shaughnessy. Political marketing management and competitive elitism Schumpeter is often considered the theoretical fore-runner of political marketing. Barber’s (2003) ‘Strong Democracy’ with its menu of initiatives to encourage public debate. a genuine mass participatory democracy is possible. the instrumental school.

Reagan. 2000). The economic logic of markets demands that producers compete to sell their wares. It is precisely a concern of modern competitive elite theorists that populist demands of mass-mediated democracy have potentially destructive effects upon political leadership (Scammell. but were essential if the process was to work at all. While a voter-oriented follower mentality may be hailed as bringing in more consultative democratic aspects (Lilleker. the reality of uninterested voters demands that politicians find ways to attract attention and mobilise support. what he called the ‘psycho-technics’ of electioneering (advertising. stirring music and suchlike) were not corruptions of democratic politics. famously for Schumpeter. class and social bloc-based politics and limited affluence and consumer choice. Henneberg. Thus. a White House adviser to Nixon. The selling model of marketing was effectively the only one available for mass markets (Lees-Marshment. 2002). slogans. 2001. designed according to ‘producer’ convictions and then ‘sold’ through tactical use of marketing instruments.mobilizing into voting. 2005). it is clear that competitive elitism must be less comfortable with tenets of what we call instrumentally-oriented political marketing. Schumpeter’s view reflected the mid-War period of ideologically polarised political choice. Ford. In both approaches the offer is essentially topdown. rallies. pressures of media and the proliferating opinion polls on virtually all aspects of our lives effectively squeeze the discretionary power of leaders to set the political agenda. Gergen (2000). notes the escalation of poll-led politics: “All modern presidents have polled heavily – Haldeman [for Nixon] put three different pollsters in the field at a time and secretly paid for a fourth to keep an 21 . However. Conceptually Schumpeter’s approach fits closely to the selling-oriented model of political marketing as outlined above. and Clinton.

Lilleker. as image comes to dominate. This may lead. Clinton. The shoe-horning of politicians into poll-driven strategic moulds has been a recurring complaint of commentators who witness politicians turning into on-message robots day after day. determined by the results of polls and focus groups. Gergen reports. just as damagingly.” (240) Thus. should take it upon themselves to determine the common interest. away from intra-organisational success and competence towards media-centric qualities of personality. And the politicians – who tend to see caution as an aphrodisiac – have gone along. Rees and Gardner. instrumental political marketing may ultimately harm democracy by fostering weak and follower-type leaders. but nonetheless it ratchets up the threats to leadership. a politics devoid of the idea of common interest altogether. as in the hands of a strategic marketer as effective as Karl 22 . human qualities out of the politicians they serve : “ They’ve put democracy in a Styrofoam cage. 2005). likeability and attractiveness. in the classic Schumpeterian formulation. 2005. or. competent but media-awkward candidates are sidelined in favour of celebrity and the political offer is increasingly cautious. spent nearly ten times as much on polling in his first year in office as his predecessor spent in two years. Klein (2006) denounces political marketing consultants precisely for draining the authentic. Instrumental marketing may be seen as an understandable response to increasing media power. Leaders. 2001. Yet instrumental political marketing segments electorates and concentrates resources on the targets and niches required for victory (Smith and Hirst. The great concern of modern elitists is that political marketing (understood as instrumentally-oriented) encourages a shift in criteria for selection of candidates for office.eye on the others – but no one before Clinton has taken a poll to determine whether he should tell the truth publicly (the Lewinsky case) or to use American ground troops (Kosovo)” (331).

It is arguable that relational PMM is inherently problematic for a democratic orientation focusing on the need for meritocratic leaders to derive clear and decisive actions out of incompatible preferences. in the sense of fostering consensus on fundamental conceptions of the common good. even if deliberative consensus were achievable. instrumental political marketing revives traditional fears about the depth of attachment to democratic ideals among ordinary citizens and their vulnerability to skilful manipulation. “there is no obvious reason to think that deliberation will bring people together” (238). the fundamentals of policy development and implementation. Democratic elitism’s main 23 . and therefore interested in political relationships. These are derived from the involvement of citizens not so much in the process of democracy but also in the content of the offering creation and delivery. Modern competitive elitists are not convinced that deliberation produces ‘better’ democracy. Even by increasing the numbers of citizens who are interested and informed. With regard to relational PMM. to the extent that relationships and inter-dependencies preclude competition they will not foster liberty. Furthermore.e. Thus. George W. as witnessed by popular support for radical right-wing movements in contemporary Europe” (Blaug and Schwartzmantel. will (want to) stay ignorant and potentially easily manipulated. Moreover. 2002: 239). it is not necessarily desirable and may lead to the suppression of difference: “ …the competition of ideas – argument rather than deliberation ” is the vital ingredient of democratic liberty (Shapiro. As Shapiro (2002) argues. 2001: 261). the theory of political elitism is sceptical that meaningful relationships with citizens based on political interactions are realistic. competitive elitism also shows some concerns. or certainly a large minority. The people’s choice might well be for “the politics of demagogic xenophobia. Bush’s infamous architect. the majority. to a politics of national polarisation. i. Worse still.Rove.

2003). Neither aspect is self-evidently a main concern of relationship-oriented PMM. open and designed to produce the best leaders). as a vehicle for one-sided. neighbourhood assemblies. for example. Nonetheless it is the driving concern of deliberative democrats to increase protected spaces for citizen-to-citizen communication through. is corrupting if it dominates the public sphere.concern is therefore with the role of leadership (specifically that it must be protected and safeguarded) as well as the political competitive process (it must be fair. rather that it should not displace or dominate the discussion of private individuals coming together to form the public. which. It would seem clear that a selling-oriented PMM. it is arguable whether such an unmanipulated ideal public sphere ever has or ever could exist (Schudson. may be a threat to deliberative ideals. Where the latter’s prime fear is for weak leadership. televised town halls and mediated civic communications initiatives (Barber. the ideal public sphere is precisely the place where private citizens create public opinion and hold critical authority over their governments and would-be leaders. the former’s is for a populist democracy that effectively bypasses public 24 . However. while essential for electoral politics. Their concerns are the mirror image of the competitive elitists’ anxiety. 1995). Proponents of deliberative democracy must also be deeply suspicious of the dominant current practice exemplified by instrumental PMM. It is not so much that political salesmanship should not exist. it offers at best competitive debate. PMM and deliberative democracy Authentic public deliberation requires spaces protected from manipulation and selfinterested promotion in which citizens may engage as equals in discussion of matters of common concern. After all. unidirectional rhetoric.

The clever and unprincipled power-seeker may ride to office on waves of prejudice. Relationship marketing inherently invites dialogue. rather than a purely poll-driven assessment of preferences (Johansen. the political drive for increased connection with voters does present opportunities for mechanisms of relationship-building. and all the worse for democracy if strong. and casually expressed voter opinions is that it may in the context of a deliberative democracy compound prejudice. 2005. focus groups. even if not necessarily the ideal deliberation of the public sphere. 2005). and thus provides incentives to develop political interest and engagement on an enduring basis. even a totally invented view. which Tony Blair launched in 2003 claiming it was the biggest consultation exercise ever with voters. and as such s/he will not be the meritocratic leader that competitive elitism seeks. Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy. a prejudice. elevate it to policy. This derives from the model’s insistence on the maintenance of relationships with real people. considered opinion (Frankovich. but neither is s/he necessarily weak. but that opinion may be anything: a reflex. A truly deliberative democrat (but also a convinced political relationship marketer) must look with scepticism at the proliferating claims of parties to be ‘listening’. is now largely forgotten. The danger of politics that follows polls. However. Polls have no necessary correspondence to thoughtful. and neglect the fora of truly public deliberated opinion. Polls and focus groups express opinion of sorts. It emphasises the need to pay attention to the core (supporters and members) as well the periphery of target floating voters and other societal stakeholders. The ‘Big Conversation’. 2008).deliberation altogether. Trippi’s 25 . Of the marketing models discussed here it would seem that only the relationshiporiented model based on a societal orientation has any potential for compatibility with the ideal construct of a deliberative democracy. and was quickly dismissed as a gimmick.

citizens’ juries. 2006). It is likely that the proponents of deliberative democracy have not fully grasped how flexible political marketing can be.(2004) heralded open-source campaign for Howard Dean in 2004 (the ‘Blog for America’ campaign enabled citizens to place any message without censorship.g. 2003). While the first big demonstration to be held against the Iraq war in 2003 was a mass of discordant images. concepts and methodologies are being increasingly adopted by pressure groups such as the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ in the United Kingdom. cohesive anti-war brand symbolism (spots of bright red ink on a white background with the black slogan ‘Stop the War’). using regular referenda. and reciprocity. with 40. A polity constructed as part of on-going relationship building. 26 . rather than attack and defence. or electronically-enabled interactions. and enlist to volunteer or to donate. and how effective it can become when used as a tool to counteract elitist hegemony. e.000 people per day visiting this site) was high-risk and ultimately short-lived. persuasion. Political marketing management is not just confined to party campaigns. If a complete critique is to be developed of schools of PMM. an anarchy of amateur poster designs with the total effect of confusion. could bring forth a genre of political marketing which focuses on the goals of information. and that in the age of the Internet even the powerless can turn to marketing. The positive aspects of disintermediarisation which are attributed to such e-enabled PMM would overlap with requirements of a deliberative democratic setting (Collins and Butler. it must be recognized that it is no longer the exclusive monopoly of elite groups such as parties. Marketing techniques. but remains a high-profile and influential model of reciprocity between a candidate and supporters (Trayner. the more recent demonstrations have become almost corporate in tone. This is exemplified by hordes of individual demonstrators carrying the posters designed by David Gentleman with a unitary.

Political marketing theory and practice should follow suit. and not an alien import. it may be that competitive elitism is the more useful of the two democratic theories to political marketing theory. 1996. Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy. Summary. shows the least overlap with the conceptual demands of either theory of democracy. the political marketing approach most clearly associated with the current normal paradigm of marketing theory (Wilkie and Moore. 2007). 27 . Commercial marketing has been persuaded to take societal issues seriously. It tells us that the rules matter. measured against some normative ideals. This has considerable implications for the development of political marketing management theory and underlines the need for alternative and critical concept and method development in political marketing (Lock and Harris. Its emphasis on the competitive nature of the struggle of votes regards marketing as essential to the democratic process.e. Different conceptual implementations of political marketing management can be ‘tested’ against different theories of democracy. this relationship is multi-faceted and ambiguous. Our juxtaposition has shown that while a selling-oriented PMM is to some extent compatible with a Schumpeterian approach of competitive elitism. and Implications The relationship between PMM and democracy encompasses the important issue of how to ensure that in liberal democracies the ‘political competition’ is enacted appropriately. Conclusions. the ideal of a deliberative democracy shows more affinity with a relational interpretation of PMM.However. 2003). through a mixture of enlightened self interest and externally imposed regulation. i. Its concern with process directs attention to the need for incentives and disincentives to practice a democratically more wholesome political marketing. What becomes clear is that the instrumentally-focussed PMM. As our argument has outlined.

2003). re-inventing traditional methods of political proselytisation such as direct mail. the rise of such phenomena as bloggers. politician and their publics. techniques and technologies inherent in the idea of political marketing. The concepts. a phenomenon that dates from the progressive era of a century ago.A clear implication of our analysis is that political marketing needs to engage with theories of democracy in order to provide itself with legitimacy. For example. could be used to foster a true relationship between party. has persuaded some at least that we are on the edge of a new era of deliberative or consultative democracy (Collins and Butler. the idea of ‘political marketing’ will be perennially suspect and anathema in relation to ‘democracy’. to listen as well as consult (Johansen. to inform as well as persuade. In fact. For its critics. political relationship marketing. could succeed in moving politics further towards the forms of deliberative democracy. its application and practice is not and needs to be imbued with a normative aim. March 13th 2005) or the Proposition Movement in California. and the empowerment of self authorship. 2005). such as the 3000 constituents engaged in an internet dialogue with the British Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Webb (Sunday Times. The resulting change in the balance of power between policy producer (political parties and politicians as well as media) and policy consumer (citizens). similar to the concept of marketing in the public 28 . the idea of ‘net roots’ and the cacophony of democratic noise emanating from the internet. has some potential impact on the future possibilities for a deliberative democracy which can be channelled via relational marketing practices. While political marketing may arguably be ‘conceptually neutral’. and based on societal marketing considerations. There are of course some good examples of exactly this. if pursued by politicians and political parties.

Nimmo. However. and aspects of the so-called permanent campaign (O’Shaughnessy. If political marketing management is defined to embrace the isolated use of sophisticated instruments. the gratification of sectarian interest is then seen as inherent in the practice of political marketing. not as an ‘order’ (Tadajewski. which would appear to merge a significant activity. others are credible.sector in general (Collins and Butler. the generation of public imagery such as George Bush on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. i. politics.e. with a seemingly trivial and inherently insignificant one. i. 2004). namely marketing.g. then the critique that political marketing is enhancing an illusion of participation becomes more credible. for example the costs inherent in a marketing conceptualisation of politics do mortgage politicians and parties. 1999). we see our argument as an ‘ordering attempt’. e. 2003). This would be a potential vindication of the Schumpeterian case. we argue that the critics’ view takes into account neither the subtleties of different interpretations of political marketing nor of different ideals of liberal democracy. bought or sold. Laing. 1990. 2003. the commoditisation of opinion which becomes dysfunctional to the collective interest. The inference is that political marketing management represents the ideology of consumerism applied to politics. Cost is a mighty factor in campaigning. 2005). 2006). While we do not want to be apologists of political marketing in our discourse. we argue that there are other definitions of political marketing management…and that we can not choose between the desirability or appropriateness 29 . particularly in America. Partly this is because of the negative resonances of the linguistic juxtaposition. While some of the concerns against PMM can be dismissed as amounting to mere prejudice (Henneberg. to powerful vested interests (Harris and Lock. and thus connects to broader fears about consumerism and consumer culture.e. and this raises fears of public opinion becoming a commodity to be manufactured.

meaningful relationships. we are left with two alternative narratives. This would mean a preference for a selling-oriented PMM. would portray a benign future constituted by a broadening down of democracy and enhanced by the application of relational political marketing tools. conducive and corrupting. for ideal types. and inspired by ideals of deliberative democracy. In either case. but for both of these we find that that the instrumentally-oriented perspective of PMM which dominates current (political) marketing theory is the least appropriate in terms of conceptual overlap with theories. technologies and concepts. Furthermore. In fact. which represent different assessments of the present and different ideas about future possibilities. or from the cynical resignation of the disillusioned idealist. including a strategic posture of leading the electorate (Henneberg. What emerges clearly out of our exploration is that types of marketing have implications.of these alternatives without explicating the democratic yardstick we use. The one. We have examined only two models of democracy. a societal orientation. either from the perspective that it represents a genuinely more workable model of democracy. the status accorded to political marketing management is critical to the ascription of future scenarios of a desired democracy. and is shaped by the structure of this competition. The alternative is to argue for acceptance of the elitist model. 2006). for any of these two narratives to happen. Thus. the dominant paradigm in (political) marketing management needs to change. Further research on this issue is necessary. It may therefore be that political marketing management emerges almost naturally out of political competition. the development of a critical theory of political marketing which takes an exchange perspective seriously and adapts it to the political sphere is an important stepping stone for further concept development in 30 . based on a rhetoric of technology-driven empowerment.

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electoral Communication Central. Channel management. electoral and governmental Policy and value strategy development.Importance of PMM for party/ candidates Exchange Dimensions Interaction Value construct Temporal orientation Main PMM activity Peripheral. strategic policy development/ implementation. electoral Communication. tactical activity management One-way Conviction-based promises Short-term. Government. Offering development. Micro-activity management. Promises implementation. strategic/tactical activity management Dialogue Mediated needsbased promises Long-term. tactical/strategic activity management Mediated one-way Needs-based promises Short-term. Intelligence management Push and Pull marketing instruments Election. Implementation Main instruments Campaign orientation Push marketing instruments Election Table 1: Schools of Political Marketing Management Starting point Context Competitive Elitism Democracy Structure of a stratified society Political preference incompatibility Limited voter knowledge/interest in politics Political instability Deliberative/Participatory Democracy Changeable structure Unified will of people exists/can exist Voter rationality/knowledge can be created 37 . Managing in relationships Relationship building instruments Election. Activity coordination. Resourcegeneration Activity Dimensions Central. Resource generation.

Focus Process/method focus to produce ‘Gestalt’ perspective on political government and imbue discourse framework legitimacy Sovereignty of the people realised through deliberation in the public sphere Main Political leadership by elite Communication and dialogue by instruments public (healthy public sphere) Outcomes Competent leadership Political participation by citizens Legitimate/fair process Knowledgeable citizenry Stability Table 2: Schools of Theories of Democracy 38 .