FEATURE: Candidates try to win over voters with memorabilia

By Tsai Ya-hua, Ou Su-mei, Jake Chung and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writers

Mon, Sep 10, 2018 - Page 3

With campaigning for the Nov. 24 local elections picking up speed, some candidates have been distributing campaign memorabilia in a bid to woo voters.

Voters in the nine-in-one elections are to choose mayors and councilors in the six special municipalities and other cities, Aboriginal district representatives and councilors, county commissioners and councilors, township mayors and councilors, and borough and village wardens.

To attract younger voters, the campaign teams of Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Pasuya Yao (姚文智) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) have released campaign memorabilia.

Yao’s campaign office has launched seven shades of green T-shirts with the words “Taiwan Taipei” printed on them.

The words are in line with Yao’s platform that Taipei must clearly stand out as Taiwan’s capital, his office said, adding that it is also distributing a specially designed brochure detailing Yao’s platform.

The brochure has intentionally left out Yao’s name, in line with his idea of letting his platform speak for itself, campaign spokesperson Hung Li-chi (洪立齊) said.

The office has also launched a set of cups, with Yao’s platform printed on them. One of the cups states his emphasis on making Taipei more visible internationally, and the other conveys his goal of relocating Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) and turning the area into a park, Hung said.

Ting’s campaign has launched its first fundraising item — a mask with a “chibi” version of Ting printed on it — to support his platform to combat air pollution.

More products would be unveiled after Ting’s campaign formally opens its office, his office spokesperson Yang Chih-tou (楊植斗) said.

The products are to be culturally significant, and the office is also considering launching edible products, such as pastries with Ting’s image printed on them, Yang added.

Ko, an independent seeking re-election, has also unveiled several products to promote his platform, although most of them are identified as “backer’s gifts,” as he has adopted a “kickstarter” approach to fundraising.

Compared with the items his campaign offered when he first ran for mayor in 2014, Ko’s promotional items have become simpler, such T-shirts, pins, stickers and handbags, Ko’s campaign team said.

In Taichung, handheld fans appear to be the most popular memorabilia for city councilor hopefuls to give voters during door-to-doors, the nominees said.

“Handheld fans are highly effective as a medium of political advertisement, because whether they are used at home or places of work, their message reaches a broad audience,” said Lin Yi-wei (林義偉), a first-time Taichung councilor candidate from the DPP.

His campaign has also prepared masks, kitchen scrub cloths, tissue paper and notepads, Lin said.

Campaign staff give the cloths to housewives they meet in the markets, while they distribute the dust masks to scooter riders, he said.

As they are still early in campaigning, candidates need to use their campaign funds strategically and most campaigns favor distributing cheaper campaign memorabilia — such as tissue paper — for now, he said.

Chou Yung-hong (周永鴻), another political rookie seeking election from the DPP, said his campaign prepared notepads, ball-point pens and handheld fans to distribute to voters.

His campaign’s limited-edition fans proved especially popular because of their practicality and collector’s value, he said, adding that the first 1,000 fans ran out quickly and he would not be able to replenish them until fundraising targets are met.

KMT Taichung City Councilor Wu Hsien-sen (吳顯森), who is seeking re-election, said he favors ball-point pens.

His campaign’s most popular item so far has been a multifunction keyring set that contains an LED light, pen and screwdriver, he said, adding: “It is a hot item. Everybody wants them.”

DPP Taichung councilor candidate Hsiao Lung-tse (蕭隆澤) said he added cotton buds to his memorabilia lineup of fans and masks, because he often needs them after swimming and thought that it would be a useful item for the city’s growing population of voters who engage in sports.

DPP Taichung City Councilor Chang Ya-min (張雅旻), who emerged victorious in 2014 after running as an underdog, said her re-election campaign this year offers only fans and notepads.

Chang is running as a model city councilor with a focus on policy and public service, her campaign said.

DPP Taichung councilor candidate Weng Mei-chun (翁美春) said her campaign offers a wide range of memorabilia ranging from fans and pens to tissue and cloth wipes.

She has insisted on an absorbent cloth and the manufacturer submitted eight samples before the product met her standards, Weng said, adding that the manufacturer nearly scrapped its contract with her due to her pickiness.

The wipes proved popular among the eateries in her electoral district and she is also distributing cleaning cloths for lenses and eyeglasses, Weng added.

Additional reporting by Huang Chien-hao and Chien Hui-ju