Choel Mallarangeng: King of Political Consulting

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THE political change from authoritarian governance to democracy opened up new business opportunities for political experts to set up political consultancies. One of the most successful political consultancies today is Fox Indonesia, which was the first strategic and political consulting company in Indonesia.  

When Choel Mallarangeng set up Fox Indonesia on Feb. 14, 2008 with his older brother Rizal Mallarangeng, he was supported by a number of young intellectuals and experts from various disciplines. Not long after, Fox Indonesia was also assisted by international political experts, such as Prof. William Liddle and Prof. Takeshi Kohno.  

William Liddle is a well-known expert on politics of Indonesia, Southeast Asia, developing countries and Islam while Takeshi Kohno is an expert from Ohio University well versed in Southeast Asian politics. Takeshi Kohno has done political research in both Indonesia and Myanmar.  

According to Choel, well integrated, best in class services are available for the clients of Fox Indonesia, including cost handling, strategic planning, style and content, social and political networking, media campaigns (creative, production and placement strategy), media relations, PR, media monitoring, design surveys, data analysis, event organizing and execution, public debate simulations, grass-root program assistance, design and training of campaign teams. All this and more can be adjusted to a client’s requirements and objectives based on transparent standards and measures.  

As a professional company, Fox Indonesia handles clients for presidential, gubernatorial and regental elections as well as members of the House of Representatives and major corporations. In line with its mission, Fox Indonesia is always innovative in finding ways for public campaigns that have been proven to be effective, smart, elegant and efficient. Its other purpose is to introduce a campaign that is modern, innovative and full of integrity.   Choel claims that although this was a new type of business, political consultancy has a huge market here.

“Our market is clear cut. Every five years there are 471 regental elections. This year there are 254 such elections. And every five years there are 33 gubernatorial elections, so the total is more than 500. If it is divided by five then there are at least 100 elections to be handled, while Fox Indonesia is only able to handle about 12. What about the rest? Who will handle them?” he asked.  

Every five years there is also a legislative election involving numerous political parties, while for the presidential election there are usually three pairs of candidates. However, Fox can only manage to handle the campaign of one pair. This means there is a huge market, making it possible for new consultants to enter the business.  

For Choel, the presence of new consultants is not a threat. “They create healthy competition and make all players play the game more efficiently and more responsibly. I am fully aware of such a possibility.”   Since its establishment, Fox Indonesia has handled many clients. The first one was Alex Noerdin, a governor candidate for South Sumatra. After Alex was successful in becoming governor, Fox Indonesia received more orders, including from Soekarwo and Gus Ipul who were running for the posts of governor and deputy governor of East Java.  

Fox Indonesia then became the consultant for Sutrisno Bachir for the chairmanship of the National Mandate Party (PAN) with the slogan “Hidup adalah Perbuatan” (Life is what you make it).   Then the Democratic Party approached Fox Indonesia to become its consultant and increase its ballot share from 7.5 to 15 percent. “I was officially requested by the advisory chairman of the Democratic Party and his staff to help win the legislative election. “The result was more than satisfactory as the party’s ballot share went up to 21 percent. It was way above the set target.”  

“The contract was extended to the presidential election of SBY-Boediono, and they were victorious in the first one round. Well, it was not solely due to our achievements but due to SBY and the party’s programs,” he added.  

After the success of his clients in the presidential election, Fox Indonesia assisted Aburizal Bakrie in his victory at the national congress of Golkar in Pekanbaru and Hatta Rajasa at the PAN congress in Batam. Fox Indonesia was also the political consultant for Andi Mallarangeng in his bid for the chairmanship of the Democratic Party, as well as a governor candidate for North Sulawesi and several other provinces.  

The success story of Choel in developing Fox Indonesia is very much related to his background. Besides being a marketing expert, Choel, who is the third son among four children, is also an expert in social political sciences. After graduating Gadjah Mada University’s School of Social and Political Sciences in Yogyakarta, he went on to earn a Master’s degree in marketing.  

Choel first started working as general manager of PT Datascrip. He then moved to Infocus Corporation Asia Pacific until he was appointed the company’s director. From 2002 until 2008, he led a number of companies, including Indovisual Group of Companies and Akira Indonesia.  

His core competence and strategic marketing, such as branding, positioning and differentiation, largely contributed to his successful leadership of companies here and abroad. In the field of politics, Choel, who was born in Pare pare in 1966, was a co-founder of the United National Democratic Party (PDK). In January 2008, together with his older brother Rizal Mallarangeng and some friends, Choel set up Fox Indonesia. Although busy as CEO of Fox Indonesia, Choel is also president director of news website.  

At Fox Indonesia he combines marketing and politics. He says this concept is not entirely new as it has existed for a long time in the US, the base of the American Association for Political Consulting. There are currently about 40 strategist consulting companies in the US for various elections, such as for president, senators and governors. (Faisal Chaniago)  

The Jakarta Post, June 09, 2010

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