Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Vlaams Belang

A small piggy bank, made possible by the 'Flemish Block'.

One of the most controversial political parties in Belgium is Vlaams Belang (which means something like Flemish Importance). They used to be known as an extreme right party when they were called Flemish Block, but since 2004 they've changed their name and use more diplomatic terms to express their discontent about immigrants and Belgians who happen to live on the French part of the country. Every now and then someone finds out that one of their members is still involved with extreme right circles or spoke at nazi boyscout camps in Germany. In the new and more 'politically correct' Vlaams Belang that person would be excommunicated. It's their way to make sure that nobody in the political party has a reputation that's totally rotten.

A quick look on the internet tells me that this party has 1/4 of the seats of the Flemish Parliament. And 17 seats in the National Government. That means a lot of people voted for Vlaams Belang. They were popular before. At first I thought it might have something to do with the fact that some Belgians have conservatism in their genes. But more and more I begin to understand why they are so popular. I mean, I don't actually approve their political point of view, let's get that straight. But there must be a reason why this party has become so popular. And I think the reason is: their marketing!

What are they doing right if you look at their marketing? On a regular basis I get a newletter from them - on paper. So whether you asked for it or not, every Dutch speaking Belgian gets their propaganda. It's written in a way that only a professional writer can read between the lines and recognize it as racism. And they have give aways. Last year they gave away big yellow flags with a lion on it. And this week I got a small piggy bank in my letterbox (it's almost cute if you didn't know who gave it). And there's interaction with the potential Vlaams Belang-voters. You can send a letter about how you hate immigrants to the party and if you haven't used too explicit wordings your letter will be published. On their website you can read their articles.

Their 'advertising' isn't even a bit creative, but they engage in a dialogue with the people. Therefore people get the impression that they are heard by Vlaams Belang. I think this quality -to give people the impression that you listen to them- is something that a lot of political parties lack. Of course, not everybody has the megabudget to spread complete newspapers among the population of Belgium. But if you want to make a statement, the last thing you should do is go for a me-too strategy. If you don't have the budget, be creative. And nowadays you can use more and more media to reach all the voters you need.


Post a Comment

<< Home