Vote, get a ‘democracy discount’

April 26th, 2009 - 9:51 am ICT by IANS  

Shaan By Vaishali Bhambri
New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) It’s raining discounts and other offers this May in the capital. And all you have to do to avail yourselves of them is to flaunt the “black-ink mark” - proof that you have exercised your right to vote.

The trend is very new. But it is fast catching up with many stores and shop-owners planning ‘democracy discounts’ to catch eager shopaholics.

So on election day - May 7 - all those who have voted could get designer clothes, books, mugs and wristbands. The mugs will have an autograph of Bollywood director Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, who after the success of his film, “Rang De Basanti” has become an icon for Indian youth.

Fashion expert Shaan Thadani, who opened designer boutique WHITE in Hauz Khas village in February, said she is offering 10 percent off on designer clothes.

“I got inspired about this idea from various advertisements on television and radio. Discounts on designer collection is something a lot of people look forward to and if this can be done for a cause as good as this, then why not?” Thadani said.

The ‘democracy discount’ is on from May 8 to May 11.

Spykar Lifestyles, a teenage apparels brand, is also offering discounts across its stores in India.

Spykar Lifestyles director marketing (India) Sanjay Vakharia said: “Considering the fact that youth form a huge chunk of voters, we thought of this as a medium to put across the importance of voting to youth.”

“Youngsters prefer to avoid politics, but this way they will realise the importance of their vote,” Vakharia said.

In all the Spykar stores, mugs and wristbands - imprinted with “I Voted” and having Mehra’s autograph - will be distributed on first come first served basis after people have shown their voting mark.

Khan Market-based book store Full Circle and Cafe Turtle are also introducing special schemes on election day.

Its owner Poonam Malhotra said: “You can expect discounts on books as well as freebies like a piece of cake or cookies.” While the book store is on the ground floor, the cafe is situated right above it.

“Full Circle is very popular among youngsters. I think it’s very important for them to vote. They can bring about a great change,” Malhotra said.

20-year-old Saanya Khanna, who studies in Lady Shri Ram (LSR) college, is excited about the offers: “I have heard of these offers. I am more excited about the books. I am thinking of picking up books and who knows I might just find a really good bargain.”

She said these offers are more effective than the advertisements that come on television that show Bollywood stars urging people to vote.

“I have seen these advertisements, but was not convinced (to vote). However, the discounts being offered for showing the ink mark is more exciting.”

Khanna, who didn’t vote when Delhi had assembly elections last year, said: “I think it’s a good way to make shopaholics like me vote.”

Many feel these offers could make the voting mark a style statement.

“I think it’s a motivation for people, as now they will get something in lieu of their vote. The voting mark will become a sort of fashion symbol now,” says Teena Jha, who is going to be a first time voter.

Sarthak Prakash, an engineering student at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, said: “The voting mark will surely become a style statement because we plan to call the ones who don’t vote Pappu, so everybody who cares about their image at least would vote,” he added.

That’s from the ads now being run on the electronic media, where voters are being urged to vote and not to become “Pappu”. The ads are parodies from a song in the Hindi film “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”. In the song, Pappu is ridiculed because he can’t dance; in the parodies, he is ridiculed because he doesn’t vote.

Karan Dogra, an MBA professional, said: “I am surprised to see the rising potential of marketing in India today. I would love to call these discounts ‘democracy discounts’.”

He informed that during the US presidential elections, Starbucks, a chain of cafes, had offered free coffee to its customers.

“This way no one loses. The customer is happy and the store owner too. Both of them feel they have done a good deed,” Dogra said.

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