What can Jeremy Corbyn teach us about marketing?

by Sarah Quinn on 18 September 2015

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This week has been a big week in the world of politics. Whether you're a daily subscriber to political affairs, or you associate red & blue with football, you'd struggle to not know who Jeremy Corbyn is. 

I'll admit it. Three weeks ago I didn’t have a clue who he was. It was only after my Facebook feed was flooded with posts about how amazing this Corbyn fellow was - and how he was gonna change British politics forever - that I was forced to sit up and listen. 

Read any news story and we're led to believe that Corbyn stands for change – whether it be bad or good is open for debate. But how has a man that has voted against Labour more times than his opposition, managed to become the leader of this very party?

We're led to believe that Corbyn doesn’t concern himself with such frivolous things like spin doctors, PR or marketing. But to me, that's genius marketing in itself. In fact, he's probably the best marketer we've seen since Tony Blair stood for change in 1997. 

So what are these lessons that Jeremy Corbyn can teach us marketers?

#1. Your image counts for a lot

Corbyn leads us to believe that he doesn’t care about image. He's rarely seen in a suit, he doesn’t like to wear a tie, and he has a beard. So it's fair to say that he doesn’t look like your average politician. 

And during the run up to becoming the leader of the labour party, this powerful image below turned viral across social media: 

Corbyn wyzowl

On the left side we have Corbyn being dragged away by police during a protest. And on the right side we have Cameron posing alongside the members of Oxford's exclusive Bullingdon Club

It's not hard to see what these images are trying to convey. Corbyn is just a normal guy who actually cares about humanity. Where-as Cameron is just like every other politician; private schooled, wealthy, and out of touch with what most of us call 'reality'. 

But it's images like this that I believe have helped Corbyn become victorious. Because if you do your research, Corbyn's upbringing isn’t that dissimilar from Cameron's. He was in fact born into a wealthy middle-class family. He was raised in a million pound country manor estate, and he is indeed privately educated. 

But when it comes public perception he's your every day veggie who wears his socks pulled up high with his sandals and likes to munch down on a good bowl of Musli. He even won the award for 'Beard of the Year':

Corbyn tweet

The key here is that this 'brand image' whether intentional or not, has helped Corbyn connect to an audience that has grown tired of the façade that politics is known for. 

Which leads me nicely onto point 2... 

#2. What makes us different, sets us apart 

Cameron and Corbyn both clearly stand for very different policies [Check out our full infographic if you want to know what those are], but they both want the same thing: to govern the country. 

Corbyn Cameron infographic

But it's Corbyn's strategy that has helped him rise to the top. If you pit him against his opposition, it's clear to see that his strategy is completely different. 

'I think one of the problems in the election was there was not enough difference between the parties...' -  Jeremy Corbyn on why Labour didn’t win.

In the world of marketing we're often led to believe that we should be copying our competitors, because if they've made it big that way, then surely it will work for us? 

But that's often not the case. 

You see, there's a reason why people choose one product over another that is essentially the same thing just packaged differently. It's because the brand stands for something different, something that they can relate to.

And that's exactly what we can learn from Corbyn. He's tapped into an audience that wanted a change in politics. 

So when it comes to your marketing strategy, you need to separate yourself from your competitors and align yourself with an audience that stands for the same morals as you do. 

#3. Don't be afraid to cause a stir

You only have to do a quick Google search to find out that Jeremy Corbyn has caused a ton of controversy. 

He's radical in every sense of the word.

For a start, he doesn’t care too much for the British Monarchy... 

He was heavily criticised recently because he dared to stay silent when singing the national anthem during a Battle of Britain remembrance ceremony, he messed up his lines in his first keynote speech, and he's also been critical of our allies across the pond

politics wyzowl

So it's clear that the new Labour leader stands for something that divides opinion – and in the world of marketing – it's worth taking note here. 

Take a look at the biggest brands out there and you'll see they are firm with what they stand for. Now I'm not saying you should be controversial for controversy sake, but so long as you make your value proposition clear, you'll draw an audience to your brand that shares your values and opinions. 

Takeaway 

Policies aside, there's little disputing that Corbyn's rise to success is something to admire. The biggest takeaway that we can learn as marketers is that it's increasingly important to be clear for what you stand for and use your differences to resonate with your audience. 

In an age where politics had gone sour, Corbyn dared to be different. And it's these differences that have helped the most unlikely candidate become leader of the Labour party. 

And in an age where we see the same old content being rehashed over and over again in an attempt to draw in an audience, I think it's time we breathe new life into marketing, do you?

Sarah Quinn

Written by Sarah Quinn

I eat, sleep and breathe great content so it kinda works out for me that I get to do this as a job. But waaaaait, I'm not one dimensional..... I also LOVE peanut butter, odd socks, running, daydreaming about time and space, corgis in top hats, afternoon tea and Chandler Bing.