Governments and political parties have always used some form of propaganda to influence opinion. For them, it’s common practice. But why aren’t we seeing companies and organizations doing the same? I think it’s a missed opportunity.
Propaganda. A forgotten art steeped in controversy. The very word echoes a sense of power-meets-manipulation throughout, but let’s rewind for a second. We know that propaganda was used during the wars of the 20th century onwards by the British, Germans, Americans and the Russians respectively.
The Brits relied heavily on propaganda to demoralize the Germans during the First World War. Believing this was instrumental in defeat, Nazi Germany adopted these methods in their own propaganda to battle against that of the Brits and the Americans later on in World War Two. The Americans used propaganda to influence the natives of Afghanistan and Iraq during the invasions of both countries. Furthermore, we’ve now seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin bringing propaganda back to the public eye in recent weeks.
And even though you’re about to get a small dose of propaganda with the upcoming UK elections, generally such campaigns are far and few these days.
Sure, examples similar to those outlined above are a little (to say the least) “in your face” for today’s average consumer. Though, they generally did a remarkable job of bringing down the enemy; thus bringing down the competition. And I think these kind persuasion tactics should be a considered when devising marketing and advertising strategies today. Be it online or offline.
“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”
Propaganda existed as far back as 515 BC during the Persian Empire, so why has one of the veterans in influencing people taken a back seat in the corporate automobile when it comes to marketing?
Let’s think about this. Each message within a propaganda campaign – in most cases – is a call to action. It’s direct, it’s in your face, and it has a downright viral quality about it. You cannot help to take notice. And if the CTA is strong enough, relevant and personal, then not taking action can be hard to resist. Even on the lowest level, it’s made some kind of impact.
And what’s great about this method of attention-grabbing is that the various avenues you could go down are in abundance.
You can manipulate a current trend. You can seek repeat purchases. Instil a “bandwagon” type effect. Present a strong testimonial. Voice or duplicate a common public opinion. Show that you want the reader as your customer…
How long have we got to list here?
But companies are reluctant the go anywhere near it. Arguably its negative modern-day reception is down to the Nazis. Even though, this isn’t the 1940’s. And the various communication channels now available, transmitting propaganda marketing messages has just got easier. And that’s one thing that shouldn’t be forgotten: that this is still direct marketing, and it will drive action.
Of course, it’s a different approach. In black and white, it’s borderline media manipulation. But if you’re willing to take the risk, and can carefully craft and implement a propaganda style campaign with the right call to action, you could profit enormously.