Background and planning
The election followed a five years period of having an appointed committee headed by Amram Mizna to manage Yeruham. About 10,000 citizens were forced to say goodbye to the popular mayor and choose a new one.
The main candidates were – Moti Avisrur – a popular former mayor – From the “Likud” party, Ilan Almakayes, a military veteran that ran for the well financed “Israel Beyteynu” party and Michael Biton, our candidate, Former head of the community center of Yeruham. The campaign we were asked to plan was relatively short – 5 months – from August to November of 2011.
We faced a few challenges when planning the campaign:
1. Small budget – The campaign budget was very poor and did now allow us to create meaningful advertisement beyond a few ads and street signs.
2. A dominant candidate – Mr. Avisrur was a very dominant candidate in Yeruham and we feared the election agenda would focus on him
3. A candidate with a high budget. Almakayes was backed with a budget much higher than ours and he managed to have high visibility in the city center
4. Lack of experience – We were working with inexperienced activists, which was a big challenge for the operation team promoting the campaign
5. Attacks on our candidate – Claiming he failed in managing the municipal community center, claiming he represents elitism, claiming he was not experienced enough, etc.
6. Distant managing of the campain – It is hard to run a campaign with a distance between the op-eration center and the field activists
Due to these circumstances our goal was to reach the second round and then create political alliances to ensure our victory.
The defined goal
Reaching the second round using a smart campaign that will present Biton as a main candidate for mayor
In order to deal with the challenges presented above we decided on the following strategic principles:
1. A structured campaign that deals with Biton’s image vs. the other candidates. The campaign will have 3 stages: “Leader of our own” stage, “A different future for Yeruham” stage, “Past vs. future” stage. (Details will follow)
2. To lead the national media – To be the group that initiates the national interest at the Yeruham elections in order to insure that our candidate will always be a part of the story
3. Synchronized work with the organization’s headquarters in order to create an effective campaign.
1. After we had an outsider for a leader (Mizna) it is time for a leader of our own.
2. We can build a different future for Yeruham – by choosing the future generation leaders of the community.
3. The choice is between Yeruham’s past (Avisrur) and its future (Biton) thus squeezing Almakayes out of the race as an irrelevant candidate
Building the campaign
1. Building the strategy – As described above and based on surveys and focus groups
2. We prepared the advertising grid built with all the different stages
3. We have created a timetable for elections which will help us dictate the pace and not our opponents
4. We did an extensive media round in the national media to inform them about the campain we are leading so they see Biton as a leading candidate.
Operating the campaign
1. After forming the strategy, we went on the road with the first election public meeting – using the message “leader of our own” which meant to communicate that we are talking about a leading candidate that is confidant. We built the conference to represent all segments of the population in the community
2. We approached the media to create national magazine articles about the elections and reached a meaningful exposure in all major newspapers, TV news and main internet sites
3. We connected with the “Kadima” party so that Biton will not be the only candidate without a party backing him. We created the support in Biton via members of the Knesset, and the chairman of the party
4. After we felt we established Biton as a leading candidate we moved to the second stage – “Different future for Yeruham” where we emphasized that the election is about the future of Yeruham and not its past. So, we established Biton as a candidate representing the possible future of the community. Alongside the message we launched the “Yeruham 2014 plan” – a work plan which touched all the significant issues of concern to the citizens
5. We worked in a synchronized way with the organization’s staff, while managing the guidance and high motivation of the staff as preparation for the day of the election
6. We visited Yeruham weekly in order to feel the atmosphere and meet local residents in order to understand what changes we need to make in the campaign, if any.
7. We prepared and launched the “last days campaign” – In every meeting we emphasized the point of past vs. future – Also making Almakayes irrelevant as the candidates with no chance to succeed
8. In order to deal with all the competitors spins, we conducted and distributed a survey. The survey showed Avisror was leading, but Biton was not far behind
9. At the last days before the Election Day we made the activists enthusiastic about getting people to vote for their future. We made special shirts for the activists using the message “I also choose a future” thus creating a direct correlation between Biton and Yeruham’s future
10. On Election Day, we already knew we were the winners and only waited for the results of the polls. It was obvious we set the agenda for the election – and those who do so, usually wins
Difficulties along the way
Of course, as in any campaign there were countless difficulties and bumps. The low budget, long trips, lack of experience of the people we worked with constantly challenge us, and we had to spend a long and expensive time in the campaign and especially constant thinking about how to continue to be dominant in the campaign.
As stated, there was no real advertising budget. We formulated all posters, flyers and gimmicks on this poor budget – So there was no involvement of other factors
The campaign was defined as success in all accounts:
1. Landslide victory in the first round – 47% of the votes
2. Determining the agenda of the election and its terminology
3. Media domination – There was no national article that did not mention Biton as a leading candidate, and we also managed to convince the public through the reporters that the elections are about Biton and Avisrur
The feeling of winning an election is one of the happiest that a professional in our field can have. But this victory is first and foremost Biton’s and his team’s success, spending days and nights to walking from door to door to insure more voters. We are happy we could be there by his side and help getting the most appropriate man to sit as the mayor of Yeruhamdasdas