Political marketing
Political Marketing is an emerging discipline worldwide, and at the same time a widening professional field.

The conceptualization of the field began in the early 70’s with relation to social marketing, and was widened towards the late 80’s. The expansion of Political Marketing occurred in the second half of the 90’s, as a consequence of three developments:
- Organizations and political institutions began to be perceived primarily as suppliers of social products;
- The perspective over citizens has decisively transformed into one of citizens as clients of the socio-political systems;
- And last but not least, society began to be regarded as a global mechanism for transferring symbolic goods.

A Political Marketing researcher or expert will regard the political organization as a whole and will focus on studying its capacities to produce and distribute symbolic capital.
This expert will study the organization’s position on the symbolic goods market and will analyse the organization’s relationship with its potential target.

This effort implies:
- The analysis, using Political Science methods, of the organization’s purposes in the political realm;
- Consideration of the factors related to political culture defining political behaviour and institutions;
- The evaluation, using interdisciplinary instruments from Economy, Political Science and Sociology, of individuals’ behaviour and their decisions to „purchase” symbolic goods;
- The analysis of the informational context and the organization’s available means of influencing the public communication process;
- The study of the public agenda and of the manner in which new themes and topics representing new symbolic goods earn their place on the mass-media or social group agenda;
- The monitoring of the degree to which the marketing vision influences and defines the management of the political organization.

Political Marketing is more than political communication, making up political slogans, designing posters and survey analysis, as is often suggested by communication consultants or market research and polling agencies.
Identifying Political Marketing exclusively with such of its components deprives the discipline of its fundamental attribute which is an integrated vision of the „strategy oriented towards the target public of symbolic goods”. To many it has become merely the collection of services provided by different sector experts, which is obviously an incomplete perspective.

Political Marketing is interdisciplinary, if only concerning the manner in which it combines the marketing vision of the economic realm and the goal-oriented vision of the political actors, characteristic to Political Science.

This particular perspective of society and of the exchanges between organization-actors and client-actors has raised issues in the Political Marketing literature regarding the discipline’s own ethics.

The ethical issue is in fact one of the most tender spots of Political Marketing in relation with its critics. Their main allegation is that the discipline’s concern with the complete „satisfaction” of the client has a detrimental effect on democracy and democratic stability.
The ethical objections are diverse and most of the authors in the field consider the debate to be open.

In Romania, Political Marketing is seldom present as a topic of university curricula, and most of the times it is merely a subject of courses held by communication or market research experts whose professional portfolio includes participation in political or electoral campaigns.

In what concerns the professional sphere, the offer of Political Marketing services available on the market consist of: opinion research, PR and communication consultancy and “embryonic-phase” mass-media analysis services. It rarely produces intelligence products and only once in four years, around election time, advertising agencies extend their activity to producing political clips. In what concerns the management services for electoral campaigns, there is a diffuse market made up of „free-lancers” who offer services to local leaders, mainly in local electoral campaigns.

The strategic vision regarding the relationship between the organisation and its public is completely internalized (within parties and governmental institutions). It lies merely in the attributions of the centralized decision bodies and is rarely shared with the members of the organisations.

At the level of public institutions, there is no such vision of the institution as player on a symbolic goods market, and consequently the demand for Political Marketing services from public institutions is also lacking.