What Boris is up to is very shrewd – he’s tapping into the network of those who reach out into communities and influence people by talking with them. Those who do jobs such as taxi-driving, hairdressing are in touch with diverse groups of people every day. Of course, what your cabbie says isn’t going to turn a serious Ken supporter into a Borisite – but it creates an atmosphere of support which could sway those key undecided voters.
This kind of campaign marketing feels much more like a personal recommendation than a flyer or leaflet. Engaging succesfully with people is in part showing them that others they trust support a particular cause or campaign. See MORI’s excellent socio-political influencers report for more on the value of this. Extract from summary is below….
“…we have seen a rise in the importance of personal contact and recommendations in people’s decisions and views; for example, the proportion identifying word-of-mouth as their best source of ideas and information has increased from 67% in 1977 to 92% in 2005.
In this context, it is vital for public services and those designing public policy to understand the mechanisms by which people influence others. And this is likely to become ever more important, as government considers how to use a more diverse mix of approaches to encourage “good” and discourage “bad” behaviours. This is already seen in the growing use of “social marketing”, which uses traditional communications approaches and direct incentives and sanctions — but also the influence of family, friends and other personal contacts to encourage behaviour or culture change.”
PS. I still haven’t heard of a similar technique used by the Ken-camp….