Political advertising will be forbidden starting on September 12th, by order of the High Independent Authority for the Elections (ISIE). But some parties have already run expensive advertising campaigns, with varying degrees of success.
The Democratic Progressives Party (PDP) was the first party off the starting block in terms of pursuing a publicity campaign. They pursued an aggressive strategy in three media: audiovisual, print, and display advertising. It succeeded in raising PDP’s profile across all social strata. Almost 500,000 dinars were spent in this campaign, of which urban display was the foremost component. The same amount spent on a follow up campaign garnered much worse results.
But the PDP’s stock has fallen recently. A poster showing PDP leaders Nejib Chebbi and Maya Jribi side-by-side led much of the public to object to the perceived personality cult, a political feature of the past 50 years that is understandably unpopular.
The Free Patriotic Union (UPL) seized the opportunity and responded with an ad campaign featuring social issues and ordinary Tunisians. For a novice party, the UPL is now well-positioned to win an upset over older, more established parties.
Questions remain, though, about the UPL’s young and unknown founder, Slim Riahi. The UPL spent almost a million dollars in less than a month on their ad campaigns, leading many to wonder where Riahi has found the money and what his ambitions are in Tunisia.
Ennahda party, by contrast, has not launched any advertising campaign, relying on their existing recognition. They have instead focused their efforts in operations concerning the poor. They have organized and paid for collective wedding celebrations, Ramadan meals, social aid, and other similar events. Rather than resorting to publicity, Ennahda organized meetings in all areas of the nation.
Ettakatol, the party of Mustapha Ben Jaafar, has not pursued an advertising campaign, perhaps for lack of money. Afek Tounes appears to be in a similar situation.