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Election campaigning – the Asda way

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Supermarket Asda looks to have scored a social media triumph with the news that it has enlisted the leaders of the UK’s main political parties to address its shoppers online.

Labour’s Gordon Brown, the Tories’ David Cameron and the Lib Dems’ Nick Clegg will be among the politicians posting a supermarket broadcast at Alex Salmond, of the Scottish National Party, and Ieuan Wyn Jones, of Plaid Cymru will also take part in the pre-election event. The broadcasts will be posted in mid-April, and each party has also been invited to put up a senior spokesperson to answer shoppers’ questions in a webchat. The schedule for those chats will also be published in mid-April.

Asda says the event will provide leaders with the chance to “address shoppers at the store where the demographic profile of the 18m visitors per week closely matches the nation as a whole.” It also cites research that shows its customers’ trust in politicians is at an all-time low – 74% of Asda Mums thought politicians didn’t listen to people like them, while 68% said they’d never contacted their MP because they didn’t believe they’d be listened to.

Eighty per cent of Asda shoppers are women, and this is a demographic that is shaping up to be key in this election. But this looks likely to work as well to raise the profile of the Asda e-commerce website.

Andy Bond, Asda president and chief executive, said: “We know that the key to being a better business is to listen to and actively involve our customers in what we do. We know politicians are better politicians when they do this too.”

Our view: We’re in awe of the way Asda has manoeuvred all the leading politicians onto their commercial website. Maybe they’ll stop to do their shopping on the way out. But what do you think? Is this an example of 21st century democracy in the making, or does it tell the electorate that politicans will do anything in the quest for votes? Could politicians, as Andy Bond suggests, learn a lot from the way supermarkets do business? And can we now expect them to be available to record ‘election broadcasts’ for Tescos and Sainsbury’s as well, in the interests of competition? Leave a comment below to share your view.

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