Monday, August 18, 2008

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I have often said that imagery is more powerful than words. The accompanying picture says quite a bit. It readily identifies an adversary with a vilified past. While the technique of visual morphing isn’t exactly new it does take quite a bit of creativity to come up with the idea and then harness the appropriate technology.

When I was in Bosnia (circa 1997 – 1998) the Republika Serbska had a great TV commercial. First they showed NATO troops then focusing on the Kevlar helmet, morphed the NATO helmet and the troops into Nazi storm troopers. At the time I thought that was a nice piece of work and I admired what I felt was a streamlined approval chain.

While morphing is a great visual, the object of the vilification (in this case Stalin) typically brings up such emotions and memories that this kind of work needs to be dealt with very carefully. This is especially true in a coalition environment where partners may have their own perspective on the campaign and its reflection on a troubled past.

This particular picture also stands for the proposition that the media playing field is leveling. Viral marketing with unclear sourcing and no fact checking or validation is now with the capabilities of almost any individual and certainly almost any group.

This also means that any single image or writing can become an overnight Internet darling with hundreds of thousands of downloads – yet the ability to respond quickly with powerful images will often establish the information battle positions much as the first product out in a market place may dominate market share simply because its first.

Bottom line: PSYOPers need to be at least as conversant with technology as our adversaries and we need to have a streamlined approval chain, yet one that can see beyond the image at hand.

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