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Jingle All The Way to Election Day

Whether you “Signed your name with a golden pen” or you believed the “Time Is Now” voters of Trinidad and Tobago took to the polls on Monday August 10th to cast their votes in an election season severely hampered by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For this 2020 General Election, parties came up with more ad jingles than ever before and we looked at how they did on air, how they effectively reached out to voters and whether or not airplay equated to votes.

Ad jingles play a very valuable role in so far as settling into the psyche of the voter in a rather subliminal manner, therefore influencing who someone votes for. It is usually a catchy tune or slogan with a high mnemonic quotient and can be easily remembered by audiences.

There is no doubt this election was different from those in the past in many ways and one of the main contributing factors behind this was the use of radio as an effective medium by the various parties, the two major parties being the - People’s National Movement (PNM) and the United National Congress (UNC) to reach out to voters.

Both parties ran numerous radio campaigns to reach out to the maximum number of voters. At almost every minute at least three ad jingles on every FM channel across the country were heard. These were timed from 30 seconds to 1 minute and were played in every ad break, sometimes even cutting the time allotted for songs.

According to our survey, here is a breakdown of the radio’s political ad insertion list for the period July 1st - August 9th.

See table below:

Now Is The Time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTSdRcMHyvE

The Right Choice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz_0EN-9UAU

The themes covered in the radio campaigns include the NIB/UTC scheme, COVID-19, poverty, jobs, crime etc. This year’s election which was dubbed by some as a mini “Trinibad” sound clash saw the inclusion of various local dancehall artistes. The winning PNM party’s 2020 Election Campaign Anthem “The Right Choice” was performed by Peter C Lewis, Superblue, Rishi Singh and Isasha which raked up thousands of views on YouTube. The party also had another hit, “PNM Balisier Steppers Dance” by Trinidad Ghost which echoed in every corner of the country and it can be said that the jingle played a critical role in the party’s victory in the 2020 elections. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was also spotted doing the dance while on a campaign. Other songs launched by the party were “Touchdown (PNM Remix)" by Rondo “We Go Beat Them” by Eddie Charles.

In typical sound clash style, the Opposition came through with their reply in its key anthem “Now Is The Time” by Squeezy Rankin and Brian Mohan. The party also released other endorsements from top local dancehall artistes like Prince Swanny, Boy Boy, Plumpy Boss, Medz Boss; Soca Stars Kerry John, Orlando Octave and Chutney Star GI Beharry on various platforms. According to our findings, the ad insertions on the radio by political parties vastly increased in this election year. In the above chart, UNC dominated the airwaves with their campaign anthem being played 5605 times for the monitored period.

Based on analysis, the airplay of jingles was influential in the voting process but it did not equate to the final results. Media InSite monitored 30 Trinidad and Tobago radio stations during the period 10 July through 9 August. PNM aired pre-recorded spots on an average of 24 stations per day during the period. UNC aired spots on an average of 17 stations per day. PNM aired spots on 28 of 30 stations. UNC aired spots on 28 of 30 stations.

We also tracked the Results Overtime for the two major parties, out of 65.8K generated results for the period July 1st, 2020 to August 1st, 2020 - 52.5% were PNM mentions, 45.5% UNC mentions and 2% were otherwise.

Looking at the Share of Media Channel, PNM dominated Facebook with different ads that were active on the site during the period. PNM had an average of 21 active ads per day while UNC fielded an average of 2. Active ad count does not speak to each party’s dollar investment or number of impressions garnered by the ads, but rather to the diversity of messages fielded.

Dr Keith Rowley declared victory for the PNM in the election, 22-19 shortly after 10pm on Monday night. He will serve as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago for a second consecutive term. Meantime, Opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar did not concede and called for recounts in five (5) marginal seats.

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