Monday, June 9, 2014

Marketing and Politics

This time last year I was working an a BS degree in psychology.  Along the way, we discussed various aspects of the subject, as any well rounded college education should.  But one thing that was not discussed was how marketing plays a role in more than just a consumer market.

Typically we see marketing employed in the grocery store.  They have found some typical phrases that catch the consumers attention.  Then they constantly use these phrases.  When you see Angus Pride, or simply Angus, you think of the breed of cattle, but this meat is generally just a black cow.  Not all Angus cattle are black, and not all black cows (or even mostly black cows) are Angus.  It is why commercials are typically louder than the program you are watching, they have flashing images, music conveying a specific mood.  But they do this in news and politics as well.

Think back to the last time you watched CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, or any other local news program.  Whenever something of "note" occurs the current program or announcer is interrupted and music plays, a computer graphic comes across the screen, and this newer more urgent news is then passed onto the viewer.  That isn't really a bad thing, except when reporting on events that are ongoing, as the information may or may not be correct, which makes things bad.

But more importantly marketing shows up in politics.  Really an election is nothing more than a popularity contest.  Do you like candidate a, or candidate b?  Which means that the candidates have to be marketable.  Someone like myself is not all that marketable today.  I am not picture perfect, I have a slower speech pattern (someone asked me if I was on ludes after watching a video I made), I am often soft spoken, I curse, and I cannot follow a script for the life of me.  In about 20 seconds I would have my foot in my mouth, and my head up my ass at the same time.  Sure I have a message, and it would resonate with many people, but I do not have the charm to win over enough people to win.  Certainly if a message is compelling enough one could win anything, but I would have to turn to someone to create the image needed to win.

That is what is happening today in politics.  I doubt many of the politicians actually believe half of what they say.  But their controllers, their marketing people are keying in on some things that some people consider important.  Bush for all his faults made many people believe he would be a cool guy to have a beer with.  That is why his two elections were close enough to have them handed to him.  Obama focused on people being upset with the status quo, he adopted the Change platform, and enough people wanted to see change that he handily won his elections.  To be fair to Obama, this nation has changed, in some ways for the better, for other ways for the worse.

Ultimately, what we are seeing now is a backlash in marketing.  Those who are not happy with the direction this nation is going are being sold on paranoia.  Case in point, do you know why people constantly call Obama a socialist, like it is a bad thing?  First people are willfully ignorant as to what socialism really is.  They equate it to communism, and while similar they are not the same.  They do not take the time to learn the terms that are thrown at them, and honestly, sometimes it can be a hard thing to do.  There was a comment made that even I had to break down to singular words, and create what I felt was the meaning behind it.  Small scary words that I had never encountered in that combination, so I researched the meaning to the ones I didn't know, used what I did know.  Many people become so overwhelmed that they don't even try.  Using words like that has come to be a sign of intelligence, so when a person uses huge words, in an odd fashion that is coherent, they appear smarter.  A sign of real intelligence is making something so simple even a child could understand it.  I think it was Einstein who said that only an idiot can make something larger and more complex, but we forgot about that.

They also attempt to use targeted words and phrases, something the GOP has down.  Pro-life or pro-abortion?  Well, life is positive, abortion is an end.  So pro-life is better.  Except there are times abortions can save lives, prevent inbred children from coming into the world, or otherwise ruin a persons life.  But they frame it as a yes or no question, then lead people who simply do not know towards one side or the other.  Libertarian versus socialist/communist?  Liberty is good, communism is evil.  But socialism is an environment where the people own everything, not the government.  Socialism brought to us public roads, schools, good police, firefighters, public libraries, social safety nets, and many other things.  Good things.  Libertarianism at its core is a good thing, each person is responsible for their acts, and so long as one is responsible people do not screw with each other.  So, people tend to gravitate towards the libertarian view, because it has been marketed as better than a socialist view.

If you want to any topic that is being kicked around the political arena.  You will see it is nothing more than a television commercial where the politicians are trying to sell you a bill of goods.  Now some are trying to sell you something that is a grand product.  Many more are Billy Mays, trying to sell you whatever crap they can.  Take this as an example, gun control.  I support the second amendment, but not in the traditional crazy NRA way.  They are marketing gun control as a potential gun grab, when it is nothing more than trying to ensure that criminals, the mentally ill, and idiots do not get access to firearms.  It is control not ban, but many people want to attempt to paint any type of control as the first steps towards a ban.  Why do you think so many people drag that old horse out in their political ad campaigns.  They can say you either support the second amendment, or you support controls, but not both.  It is the way they attempt to market the debate.  Its like saying you can have either a cat or a dog, but not both, and the control side wants to ensure you can't have a specific breed. 

Yeah it doesn't work like that in reality.  Actually, nothing is really a black or white issue.  But we base our views of reality based on how the issue is sold to us.  The problem is with the whole issue of marketing is willful ignorance.  People who are willfully stupid, refuse to research or check things out.  They would rather just take somebodies word for it.  Moving back to the farm and food.  When you see something that says free range or farm fresh, it looks good, it smells good, it walks like a duck, but its a goose.  We overlook the poor treatment animals receive on corporate farms.  We are being willfully ignorant about it.  When someone rails about Obama being a tyrant, I always ask why?  I get "Obamacare" in response.  While I dislike many aspects of it, and it certainly isn't what I wanted, that is not someone being a tyrant, that is the way our system works.  It was voted in by the majority of elected officials. But it is all how it was marketed by those who oppose it.  They parade around talking about how evil "Obamacare" is, neglecting that it is basically "Romneycare", which is practically word for word the GOP healthcare plan from the 90's.  Yeah, thats why I dislike it more than anything, it was a GOP plan, and the GOP plans tend to fail.  But most of the people who bitch about the PPACA are going solely on the words of the marketers (Faux Noise), and are being willfully ignorant about the origins of the bulk of the plan.  In this world, right now, innocent ignorance is reserved for children.  All grown adults, and teenagers are just willfully ignorant, I can say that because we have nearly every piece of just a few keystrokes away.