The economics of election campaign posters
published : 16 Jun 2011 at 20:30
writer: Jon Fernquest
With only weeks to go before the elections and campaigns swinging into full gear, business is great for small printers.
ENTREPRENEURS: Had enough, Voters may disagree but small publishing houses just can't get enough of campaign posters after years of sluggish business by Walailak Keeratipipatpong and Prapasri Vasuhirun
When an election is called, there is not much that MP candidates can do to promote themselves to the public and win that coveted 'X' in front of their numbers.
The natural thing to do is for candidates to meet people in their constituencies and give them name cards, flyers or pamphlets detailing their policies. But this can be time-consuming and expose them to the risk of being publicly embarrassed by supporters of their rivals.
Devising ploys or staging stunts to attract public attention is possible but does not always guarantee space in mainstream media, much less votes unless the activities are really extraordinary. For example, three candidates recently lay in coffins for photographers to signify the dangers of campaigning, and as a way to ward off malign spirits according to their belief.
But the easiest method for most candidates to get themselves known is to put up posters or cutouts featuring their faces, numbers and parties.
That explains the cluttered sidewalks and electricity poles these days, especially in Bangkok. The clutter may be annoying to some, but at least one group does not mind it at all
Posters and billboards are expected to add more than one billion baht to the sign industry this year, based on a study by Kasikorn Research Centre.
"Candidates normally launch different campaigns in different periods ahead of an election just like companies do when launching new products," said Tanakorn Pussawong, the owner of 108Advertising Co, a leading sign and billboard manufacturer.
The normal approach involves a soft launch to introduce a product and gauge acceptance in the marketplace. A higher-budget hard launch shortly follows after a major revision of the product to capture greater sales.
"For election candidates, their first batches of posters usually show pictures, numbers and party slogans," he said.
Later, intensive campaigns will be launched with more billboards and posters for hard-sell drives.
The budget for election campaigns of each candidate, however, is capped at 1.5 million baht by the Election Commission. The size of the posters is also limited 30x42cm, and 130x245cm for cutouts.
Colourful billboards with memorable slogans and messages could be a big attraction for the public, especially youngsters, according to Mr Thanakorn, who makes billboards for many candidates, notably Chuvit Kamolvisit, leader of the Love Thailand Party.
With 19 days to go before the election, orders keep pouring in for new billboards in hopes of reminding voters.
Thanks to advanced technologies and printing materials, election campaign signs these days feature much higher quality.
"Inkjet digital printing on vinyl materials provides fine quality at lower costs and takes less time to produce," he said.
108Advertising Co receives orders from all parties. Its services are limited only to printing and delivery but not design, photographs and wording.
The July 3 election is expected to bring in revenue of about 100 million baht to the company, whose main manufacturing plant in Samut Sakhon is now operating around the clock.
It has a capacity to make 5,000 vinyl signs a day at a cost of 140 baht each. For other materials such as polypropylene (PP) or other boards, the price is between 250 and 300 baht because silkscreen printing is necessary.
In this election, vinyl signs are the most popular, and not only because of their lower production costs. They have much less tendency to be stolen as they are of no value.
In contrast, plastic boards run the risk of being stolen. They attract scrap collectors because they have various uses such as making shades or patching roofs.
Both materials, however, are not vandalism-proof.
On May 30, or 10 days after posters and billboards started lining streets, police had arrested 84 suspects for destroying 269 billboards belonging to several candidates.
Boonsueb Phongsathon, a member of the Thai Inkjet Club, said small and medium-sized printers and sign producers also tend to benefit more from the election campaign as bigger players avoid jumping into a price war.
The situation is quite different from the 2007 general election. Although the number of campaign signs has surged this year, big printers and sign manufacturers do not pay much attention to producing campaign signs due to the lower margins and prices of signs and other print products.
Meanwhile, small and medium-sized printers, especially those whose core business is not advertising printing, are likely to see significant sales growth of 20-50% during the election campaign period, according to Mr Boonsueb, who also owns Print Head Co.
Digital printers also enjoy rising sales from making big fancy campaign signs, while offset printers see growing sales from flyers, posters and brochures.
"The election campaign period is a bonus time for printers before going back to normal business after that," he said.
Printers and sign makers sometimes help candidates devise wording and artwork for signs. Mr Boonsueb added that Thai political parties now focus heavily on PR. Campaign ads in this election have clear concepts and use pictures that tell stories
Mr Boonsueb noted that after two years of contraction, the industry was having a good year in 2011, thanks to more stable political conditions.
Thongdee Chaiyapo, managing director of Rongpim Tongkamon, said his printing houses had enjoyed big orders from many parties since the election date was set.
Although he is a Si Sa Ket candidate of Chartthaipattana Party, Dr Thongdee said he has to comply with the cost restrictions of the Election Commission.
Kasikorn Research Center estimates the general election will generate 1.06 billion baht in revenue for the sign and printing industry, up from 680 million baht it estimated for the 2007 election.
The growth stems from the higher number of members of parliament - 500 compared with 480
Legally, each candidate can spend no more than 1.5 million baht on a campaign and most of the money goes to name cards, handbills and posters
Normally, each contender uses about 1,000 posters during a campaign.
(Source: Bangkok Post, ENTREPRENEURS, Had enough, Voters may disagree but small publishing houses just can't get enough of campaign posters after years of sluggish business, 14/06/2011, Walailak Keeratipipatpong and Prapasri Vasuhirun, link)
election - the process of choosing a person or a group of person for a position, especially by voting elect (v) electoral (adj) synonym: the polls การเลือกตั้ง
election campaign - to take part in a planned series of activities (a campaign) designed to persuade voters to vote for a particular candidate or political party รณรงค์หาเสียง
sluggish - moving slowly, not performing or reacting as well as usual อย่างช้า (เศรษฐกิจ) ที่ซบเซา
promote - to move someone to a job at a higher level เลื่อนตำแหน่ง
coveted - something that people want very much to get
natural thing to do - a reasonable thing to do in the situation เป็นเรื่องปกติ ธรรมดา
candidate - a person who is trying to win an elected position ผู้สมัคร
constituency - the local group of people who elect an MP to parliament; a district or division of a country that elects a representative to parliament
time-consuming - the activity uses a lot of time (consumes a lot of time)
expose to risk - do something dangerous
embarrassed - feeling shy, ashamed or guilty about something (wishing it didn't happen)
risk - a danger, the possibility that some bad event might happen ความเสี่ยง เสี่ยงอันตราย
rivals - opponents; people you are competing with to achieve something that not everyone can have (like getting elected) คู่แข่ง คู่อริ
ploy - a trick to gain some advantage (people think it is one thing, but it is actually another thing)
stunt - something interesting that a person or organisation does to attract attention (and get free publicity and PR)
attract attention - to make people look at you; cause someone to be interested in something ดึงดูดความสนใจ
attract public attention - do something to get large numbers of people looking at you
guarantee - a promise that something will be done or will happen for sure คำรับรอง, การประกัน (See glossary)
mainstream - accepted by most people in a society ที่กำลังได้รับความนิยมหรือแนวโน้มที่สำคัญ
media - radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group สื่อ
mainstream media - the TV channels, newspapers, magazines, websites that most people read and watch
guarantee space in mainstream media -
extraordinary - beyond what is normal เป็นพิเศษ
coffin - the box that dead people are put in and buried under the ground (according to Christian and Chinese practice)
lay in coffins - when a person lays down in a coffin pretending they are a dead person
signify - to be a sign of something; to mean มีความหมาย; เป็นสัญลักษณ์
ward off malign spirits
parties - political parties, groups of candidates working together to get elected in an election
clutter - not organised (a lot of things thrown about a place without any order), messy
cluttered sidewalks - when there a lot of things all over the sidewalks (without much order, messy, disorganised)
electricity poles - the high wooden or cement things sticking into the air with telephone wires on them
annoying - something that makes you angry or puts you in a bad mood
does not mind - it is ok with them, no problem for them
billboard - large signs with advertisements next to roads for drivers to see
expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
launch - to start something เปิดโครงการ, เริ่มต้น, เริ่มทำ
soft launch - a start to some project (such as an election campaign) but not the main event (preliminary, testing the waters, testing the situation)
hard launch - the main start to something (when it really starts and gets underway)
campaigns - a long series of events staged to achieve a goal or to promote something (for example, an "anti-smoking campaign")
approach - a way of doing or dealing with something การจัดการกับปัญหา วิธีการทำให้ถึงจุดหมาย
gauge - try to measure something roughly (and make a judgment or guess about a situation, action or person based on the information that you have)
gauge acceptance in the marketplace - try to measure how much the product will be accepted by customers (and bought, how big is the market)
budget - an amount of money able to be spent on something งบประมาณ (See Wikipedia)
higher-budget - project has a lot of money to spend
revision - a change, improvement or addition that someone makes to something like a plan or document การปรับปรุงใหม่, การแก้ไขใหม่
capture sales - to gain a certain level of sales (and customers)
batch - one group or collection of things
slogan - a catchy sentence or phrase that is easy to remember (so people will keep repeating it in their head and the advertisement will be more effective)
intensive - involving a lot of effort, energy, or attention
intensive campaign - an election campaign in which all the candidates are working very very hard to get elected (lots of energy being used)
launched - began, started เริ่ม, เริ่มต้นดำเนินการ
hard-sell drives - trying hard to sell something that is very difficult to sell
capped - created an upper limit (no more than this value)
youngsters - young people, children
memorable - likely to be remembered or worth remembering ซึ่งมีค่าน่าจดจำ, โดดเด่น
orders keep pouring in - customers continue to ask the company to make large amounts of their product
do X in hopes of Y - do action X to achieve goal Y
feature - to include someone or something as an important part ทำให้เด่น
vinyl - a type of plastic
fine quality - very high quality
receives orders from all parties
wording - the exact words that are used in writing an important sentence (in an advertisement, for example)
revenue - income from taxes or business activities รายได้
manufacturing plant - a factory
operating around the clock - working and operating 24 hours every day
capacity - the amount of something that can be produced ความสามารถในการ (ผลิต)
contrast - a difference between two things when you compare them ความแตกต่าง
in contrast, ... - in a different way ...
scrap - garbage
scrap collectors - poor people who walk around picking up garbage to make money
shade - something to block the sun
patching roofs - covering holes on the top of a house (roof) to repair it (and prevent rain from entering)
vandalism - the crime of intentionally damaging property belonging to other people การทำลายทรัพย์สินโดยเฉพาะของรัฐอย่างไร้เหตุผล
vandalism-proof - no one will damage it (vandalise it), so you don't have to worry
lining streets - put along a street (next to each other, so there is no free space)
suspects - people who may have committed the crime, identified by the police ผู้ต้องสงสัย
tend - to be likely to behave in a particular way or have a particular characteristic มักจะ
benefit - to get help or an advantage from something ผลประโยชน์
tend to benefit from - to be likely or usual to gain from something
player - an important company, person, or country in an industry ผู้ค้าคนสำคัญ หรือผู้ค้ารายใหญ่
price war - when two or more companies compete for customers by lowering their prices (which can reduces revenue and profit by quite a lot)
general election - a big election in which the most important political offices will be selected
surged - increased quickly เพิ่มขึ้นอย่างรวดเร็ว
do not pay much attention to - are not concerned and do not try very hard in this area
lower margins - lower profits
core - the most important or most basic part of something ส่วนสำคัญ
core business - the most important business that a company or person is involved in
significant - important, large enough to be important or have an effect ที่สำคัญยิ่ง
offset printers - a commonly used printing technique where the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface (See Wikipedia)
devise - create (something new)
focus - the main thing one is concerned with ให้ความสำคัญ
PR - public relations, the process of handling a company's relationships with the public and maintaining a good and positive reputation for the company (See Wikipedia)
clear concepts - ideas that are defined and explained well (not fuzzy ideas with uncertain meaning)
contraction - decreasing in size; shrinking, growing smaller
stable - not changing frequently and not likely to suddenly become worse มั่นคง, คงที่, มั่นคง ไม่เปลี่ยนแปลง
comply - to obey a rule or law or do what someone asks you to do ปฏิบัติตาม (กฎหมาย, ข้อเสนอ, etc.)
estimates - guesses of what the size, value, amount, cost, etc. of something might be การประมาณค่า
generate - to produce ก่อให้เกิด create สร้าง กระตุ้นให้เิกิด
X stems from Y - X was caused by Y
handbills - a piece of paper with an advertisement on it (handed to people)
contender - one of the people trying to win a competition (opponent, competitor)