Topic: Selling the War
Marketing 101: Containing Costs with a Finely Tuned Marketing Campaign
In the Memorial Day comment in these pages, among other things about how the left deals with the military, readers were pointed to Bob Herbert over at the New York Times who doesn’t like the current plan to make things all better.
One of our readers, who actually teaches marketing to would-be MBA’s at a top business school, thinks the marketing problem is bigger than the issue of how the left deals with the military -
Well, my nephew in Mosul reports the same warm relations with a number of the locals, and it doesn’t hurt that’s he’s fluent in Turkish and working on a few things to say in Kurdish.
But there are the indiscretions.
Via CURSOR.ORG -
Oops. This sort of thing doesn?t help, nor does roughing up and humiliating his family. Hey, read the items.
Sorry about that. But we do such things. As Molly Ivins says -
Well, something like that.
Besides, Vice President Cheney just told the world, and Larry King on CNN, that the Iraq insurgency to be "in the last throes." Really. See this and this. The same day the chief of police in Basra is quoted as saying that his city is 'out of control' and dominated by militia gangs. But what does he know? He?s not in Washington at the White House.
Over the weekend in the weekly, Just Above Sunset, we commented on the Amnesty International report criticizing conditions at Guantanamo Bay. (See Moral Nagging for that.) Cheney says he was really, really offended by that report - "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously." (Ah, but they used to take them seriously when the shoe was on the other foot.) And by the way, where did all those Guantanamo photographs come from, some liberal journalist with Adobe Photoshop and too much time on his hands?
All this is not helping matters.
And General Richard Myers on the Sunday talk shows? He?s saying we have done a good job of humanely treating detainees. (See this discussion of the problems with that ? something about documented facts and reality and all that sort of thing.) On Fox News he says these evil folks at Guantanamo "are the people that took four airplanes and drove them into three buildings on September 11th." Hey, what do THEY deserve? But over at CNN his questioner reminds him that "those people are dead ... And the masterminds behind it are not the people we're keeping down at Guantanamo." (Transcript here.)
Oh, close enough!
But close enough isn?t cutting it in the Middle East, or much of the rest of the world.
The last PR gambit is summarized by Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 on Page A17 -
Ah, but her heart was in the right place and it doesn?t look like Karen Hughes will start her PR job until late fall. What?s the hurry?
Fareed Zakaria suggests we should hurry.
Who? Fareed Zakaria, the international editor for Newsweek ? BA Yale, PhD in Political Science from Harvard, former managing editor at Foreign Affairs - taught international relations and political philosophy at Harvard ? many books. You just have to get over his name. He doesn?t try to light his sneakers on international flights; in fact, on the discussion shows he seems like a nice fellow, even if he is one of THEM.
In the June 6 issue of Newsweek you will find this ?
Uncle Sam: Jekyll or Hyde?
War is a hellish business, but when you release prisoners today, they don't just return quietly to their villages. They hire lawyers.
The opening -
But can those costs be contained with a finely tuned public relations campaign? Invoking Andrew Jackson and how we treated the Native Americans seems a bit wrong-headed. But if American vacationers this summer lose enough money at Indian casinos perhaps there might be some limited use in the comparison. As a people we?re much better at getting angry with this group or that than ever before. It could work.
The rest of the item discusses how technology (digital cameras) has changed things ?
Yeah, it?s just not fair. People find out what happened, and although how they find out may be against the law, they find out.
Yep. Exasperating. It screws up public perceptions. You have to mount a counter public relations campaign. That can be exasperating, madding and just plain irksome. You and you folks have to go on the Sunday talk shows and spin and spin ? when there are other and better ways to use your time.
But here?s an idea ? don?t give them anything to find out. Or let them find out you?ve treated people honorably, as emotionally difficult as that can be.
No. Not your style.
Zakaria says too, the problem is more than technology -
It doesn?t seem like that?s going to happen. This Memorial Day the administration ran out the big guns to tell everyone that we DO treat everyone really well, and we?re winning big time, which is why the bad guys are fighting so hard, our casualties are way up, civilian casualties are way up. That shows our success.
Just who is buying that? In marketing that is known as a hard sell. When someone tries to sell you something by opening with "Trust us ? this is not what it seems," one is naturally a bit skeptical. If that is followed with, "Have we ever lied to your before?" One steps back. If that is followed by, "I know you THINK we lied, but you weren?t listening carefully," then one steps back even more. These guys need some marketing advice.
Here?s some from Andy Borowitz (Tuesday, May 31, 2005) ?
Note this is satire. We?re still doing the denial thing.
I wonder if my reader at that business school has any marketing advice he can forward to Karen Hughes. There?s plenty of time ? probably six months before she starts, if she ever does.
Everyone has their priorities.
From the halls of academia (graduate business school does count as academia), our marketing professor comments -
Yep, time to do some reading.
Bob Patterson, who appears in Just Above Sunset as both The World?s Laziest Journalist and The Book Wranger, just back from a cross-country trip, Los Angeles to New York City and back, by bus, adds this -
And the reaction from our business school guru?
Ah, we live in an age of ever more intense faith, don?t we?
Dick in Rochester adds only this - "Thanks, Bob, we all needed that little disconnect from reality!"