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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Jul 2014

New PR ninjas hired to bolster Rahul Gandhi's image

Himani Chandna Gurtoo, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 07, 2014
First Published: 00:44 IST(7/1/2014) | Last Updated: 02:15 IST(7/1/2014)

From next month, you will see more of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the print and digital media and on television.
 
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections due in April-May, Dentsu India, the Japanese advertising and public relations company, is preparing a massive campaign around the concept of “empowering the common man”, which will focus on portraying Gandhi as a young, vibrant leader who will deliver on the aspirations of the common Indian.
 
And Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm, has been hired by the Congress to create a buzz around Gandhi on social media.
 
Gandhi, who took the final decision to go ahead with Dentsu India (and JWT) to handle the Congress party’s Rs. 500-crore advertising contract for the elections, is taking a personal interest in the campaign’s design.
 
“A team of select professionals is working on the project and Rahul Gandhi is closely involved with the creation of the short films and print ads based on him,” said a Dentsu executive on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Image and substance: decoding the real Rahul Gandhi
 
“Apart from economic issues such as GDP growth, inflation and job creation, the campaign will speak about the menace of corruption and actively highlight Gandhi’s strong stand on the issue,” the source added.

The agency has been told to be careful with the phrase “aam aadmi”, originally coined by the Congress, as it is now closely associated with the Aam Aadmi Party.

Officially, Dentsu remained tight-lipped about the contract. “We just cannot comment on this subject,” said Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India.

Burson-Marsteller, which has been hired by the Congress to revamp Gandhi’s image, is likely to handle Gandhi’s Twitter account and Facebook page. It will upload pictures of his rallies, update status messages to create interesting debates and tweet on daily developments to ensure greater visibility on social media.

Read: Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be PM, says Manmohan

“We confirm that Burson-Marsteller has been engaged to provide counsel to senior leaders of the Congress Party as part of an exercise that also involves other communications and research companies,” said Prema Sagar, founder, Genesis Burson-Marsteller, India.

When contacted, a senior Congress leader declined to comment.


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