Miruna Codeanu

Syria, marketer’s point of view

In ca'n viata on September 11, 2013 at 6:28 am

Oh my, oh my, this is going to be quite a challenge: Syria, from a marketer’s point of view. There’s something called political marketing. Political marketers will tell you it’s totally different from commercial marketing. I, on the side of consumer goods marketing will tell you that the differences are not so remarkable as the other part would like to believe. Voting is buying. You may claim it it not the same thing, that people, when voting, make a long term decision that affects their future. That would be true if people were aware of that, but, oh well, you see, most people aren’t. And then, again, buying a certain product is also a decision that affects your future, eg: buying something that has been demonstrated as harmful for your health, or displaying a certain good that says something about you. Bottom line, political marketing and consumer marketing are very similar, people make decision almost the same way. The lower class, usually attracted by sales will be attracted by electoral give away gifts. Sure, for the upper class there can be values and traditions, but this is not much different from the way we sell products to the upper classes: through brands that communicate something about their social status. 

Reality is complex and there are many viewpoints . I do not know if the chemical weapon attack was real, don’t know whether the rebels did it or whether it was Bashar al Assad – Syria’s president- regime that ordered a chemical weapon attack. Don’t know whether Syria has chemical weapons or not, also these are not concerns, neither I plan to discuss them though I do have some questions. Stage one for the whole Syria mass media case was August 21st. August 21st was the day of an alleged chemical weapon attack. 1400 people were reported dead. The internet was flooded with images of kids who died in the attack. Shocking, terrifying images, ones that make you feel ashamed you are human. Share, share,  tweet, retweet, blog, reblog and so on. I shared them, the world needed to know. It was outrageous for that to happen. I still believe it is outrageous for that to happen, no matter who did it. They quickly became viral. Well, you know what they say about advertising, what sells best is kids and sexual references. For the recent times, I’d also add emotions, of any sort, and also I’d say that they tend to replace . The horrifying images of the kids who died on 21st became a perfect advertising campaign against Bashar al Assad’s regime.

Days later, another viral, this time a video:

As I was saying, there’s another thing that sells, and that this is the appeal to human emotions that type of  content that makes you say “faith in humanity restored”. It is “faith in humanity restored”, but it wasn’t presented in the usual way the western world sees the Middle East. The usual western perspective would have said: “Oh my, extremist that yell Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah because the kid he though was dead, wasn’t actually dead.” It is the common way the “center of the world” looks at the “rest of the world”. This wasn’t the case. It was the “muslims are human beings with human feelings, and look at the emotions of a father reunited with his son.” The message: muslims are humans and like any other human being, they have the right to live, but their life is not threatened, so they need protection. It makes you want to adopt a muslim. I’m not saying Syrians aren’t human, I’m an advocate of multiculturalism, what I’m saying is there’s a very big discrepancy between the usual message we’re delivered on the Middle East and the Syrian case. The marketing tools: appeal to human emotion.

Here’s a smart move from Bashar al Assad, I repeat from a marketer’s point of view: he lets himself interviewed by Charlie Rose.

Charlie Rose is agressive and judgmental, while Assad seems calm and patient, wanting to answer all the question. This is Bashar al Assad very smart move. This is where smaller companies usually fail. Big companies and corporations have huge marketing budgets, affording to buy a lot of media space, while smaller company can’t afford advertising on prime time. They have another smart tool: becoming friends with the media. Mass media news can compensate huge marketing budgets. Sure, the recommended procedure is a mix of advertising of PR, but sometimes big companies, forget about PR and treat it as a subsidiary of advertising. This would be Bashar al Assad’s smart move: going to the press and giving assertive interview. Bashar al Assad almost succeeded in doing that by reminding the Americans of a common enemy: Al Qaeda.  Bashar al Assad’s huge success would have been indulging and calming down the aggressive Charlie Rose and bringing terrorism, even September 11 back to the attention.


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