TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: The Persuaders

Re: The Persuaders

Jeff nor Lisa (
22 Nov 2004 08:02:51 -0800

Monty Solomon <> wrote:

> In "The Persuaders," FRONTLINE explores how the cultures of
> marketing and advertising have come to influence not only what
> Americans buy, but also how they view themselves and the world
> around them. ...

This should be an interesting piece, but it is not current news.
There were a number of books written in the 1950s about this sort of
thing, especially as TV was taking hold on the US.

It has also been well documented that advertisers can influence the
public only to a point, then the public will do what it wants.

For example, in the 1980s, all of Detroit's aggressive advertising
couldn't convince motorists to buy their cars -- motorists were buying
imports instead. For many reasons, sometimes products just fail in
the marketplace and no amount of advertising can move them ("new Coke"
anyone?). Other times products become a big success with very little

Most people think of "advertising" and "marketing" as the same thing,
but they're not. Advertising is only one component of marketing.
Distribution, post-sale support (if appropriate), packaging, pricing,
etc. all play a big role. For example, there is nothing special about
a hamburger from McDonald's, but the way that hamburger is made and
sold to you was a major innovation in the quick-serve restaurant

> Take the 2004 presidential sweepstakes for example. Both the
> Republicans and the Democrats were prepared to go to extraordinary
> lengths to custom craft their messages. "What politicians do is tailor
> their message to each demographic group," ....

This is nothing new. All modern communications does is make it more
_efficient_ to what they've been doing all along.

In the old days politicians travelled the stump, driving from town to
town. The candidate would stop at each courthouse or general store
and say a few words to whoever was gathered there. It was grueling
work. Talks were tuned to the audience of the particular town;
obviously city dwellers had different interests than rural people.

In the big cities there was a political "machine" of many local people
who spread the word on candidates. President Truman came out of such
a machine in Kansas City, and that association tainted him until he
proved his integrity and independence.

> ... It hardens the partisanship
> that's been such a feature of recent American politics."

When I read about campaigns and practices of US politics of the 1920s
and 1930s, I see no shortage of viscious partisanship. In the early
1930s, for example, the Democratic majority in Congress blocked some
Depression relief measures President Hoover proposed. The Dems wanted
Hoover to get full blame for the Depression and not any credit for any
fixes. [A good on this subject: "The Political Biography of James
F. Byrnes"].

Politics is and was hardball, thrown fast and without a glove.

> Political marketers are just now discovering new ways to use the
> techniques that have long been employed by the private sector.

This was done for Eisenhower's campaign. He didn't like it, but he
went along with it. Again, modern technologies allows greater
efficiencies than in the past, but the basic method of operation
remains unchanged.

PBS "Frontline" has interesting shows but they are by no means the
journalistic record; they represent a particular point of view. A few
years ago they did a piece on a suburban Atlanta town which had a
syphllis epidemic among young teenagers. Some viewers got the
impression that all the young teens of that town were bored and thus
"active" to kill time, which was not the case. I felt their most
recent piece on Walmart wasn't quite right, either.

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