First Look at Campaign-Smothered Ulaanbaatar

As you arrive at Chinggis Khan airport, the first campaign poster is visible right outside the airport premises. On the long drive into town, posters from the two largest parties, DP and MPP, dominate all the billboards, though most of them show the candidates in the local majoritarian district (District 21 for the West of Ulaanbaatar), rather than the party per se. This changes as you get into the centre of town where some of the smaller parties also have set up campaign posters.

Just to get a sense of the intensity of advertising using billboards and posters in the town centre, we counted all the posters we saw along a 2km stretch of Peace Avenue (the main East-West axis in downtown Ulaanbaatar) from the State Department Store to the State University of Education. It is probably safe to assume that this would be the most expensive stretch of outdoor advertising available in the country.

Banners are posted on existing billboard/poster structures, i.e. billboards that are set up for commercial advertising, but have been taken over virtually entirely (at least in the city centre) by political ads. They are a mix of street-level, roadside poster frames that house posters approximately 1 * 0.4m, and much larger billboards that are on billboard structures above pedestrians’ heads (perhaps 2 * 3m). There are also some rare other shapes, including some very large billboards right by Sukhbaatar Square.

On the 2km stretch we counted the following number of variably-sized posters:

  • MPP 89
  • DP 24
  • CWGP 23
  • Independent 2
  • MPRP 1
  • “Citizens’ Labour Party” (их нам)

These are individual billboards most of which would be facing in two directions, but we have only counted these two-faced billboards as one in the above count.

Note that these are a mix of posters for the parliamentary election as well as the Ulaanbaatar city election.

Clearly, and this confirms a casual impression from driving into town, the MPP is investing a lot into outdoor physical advertising and is dominant in terms of the number of posters. A bit surprising, perhaps, is the much smaller number of DP posters and the virtual absence of the MPRP.

Posters are a mix of pictures of candidates with very little policy or platform information, and party posters that typically reproduce one of two central slogans for the party.

About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He toots and tweets @jdierkes
This entry was posted in Democratic Party, Elections, Ikh Khural 2012, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics, Politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to First Look at Campaign-Smothered Ulaanbaatar

  1. mendee says:

    Great, will keep waiting for election news. The numbers will also tell you how much influence the parties have in the local government (capital city and its districts) – because many of these sizeable billboards are at the disposal of the city officials. Parties also own number of posts – there is a definitely business of billboards. Their price differ according to their locations, size, and visibility – so, elections pour money into advertising and printing companies as well as pop stars. Plus, many students and unemployed people get full/part time job opportunities during the elections. So, it is apparently good for local economy.

  2. Amy says:

    It’s not just confined to the city centre. I headed out of UB last weekend and there are huge posters right to the edge of town. They did seem to stop once we passed the border into Tov province.

  3. Marissa Smith says:

    I ran into Sodbileg’s (MAN candidate, son of Otgonbileg) campaign “car” yesterday– it’s a bus completely covered with his image and slogans! Nothing else like it in Erdenet.

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  6. Joseph says:

    Hi, do you know which company is in charge of selling billboard advertising in Ulaan Baatar?

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