chapter  8
Marketing the Unmarketable: The Vlaams Belang, a “Party Unlike Any Other”
Pages 15

The application of marketing techniques in political practice seems widespread and substantial sums of money are spent each year in political advertising, much of which goes to organizations and through channels very familiar to mainstream marketing scholars and practitioners. For example, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom delegated their communication process to the high-profi le marketing communications organization Saatchi & Saatchi (Scammel, 1996). In contemporary US presidential elections, huge sums are spent on advertising campaigns. As marketing is increasingly adopted by political parties (O’Shaughnessy, 1990), it has moving beyond infl uencing only tactical matters of communication and presentation, towards playing a signifi cant role in policy formulation and long-term direction (Butler and Collins, 1996). Efforts have been made to extend political marketing as an academic discipline beyond the limitations of traditional mass marketing theory. These extensions refl ect advancements in both marketing theory and political marketing practice. For example, political marketing includes studies of exchange and relationships between political entities and the way that techniques borrowed from industrial services and relationship marketing are, or could be, deployed by political marketing practitioners (e.g., Lock & Harris, 1996). The enriching of the fi eld has also prompted discussion about the concepts and strategies that defi ne political marketing as a separate discipline. As a consequence, political marketing is developing as a holistic concept that includes the whole behavior of the political organization and the application of marketing concepts and techniques as well as the responses of the citizen-consumer (e.g., Ingram & Lees-Marshment, 2002; Wring, 1996; Omura, 1979; Shama, 1976, among others). This broadening of both political marketing practice and the theorizing of political marketing has necessitated that political marketing emerges as an interdisciplinary subject (Henneberg, 2004), studying not just the application of marketing tools and concepts to politics but also the whole range of social theory that informs our study of postindustrial consumer society.