Sunday, September 28, 2008
PSYOP of TV Commercials
Most people don’t regard TV as a real educational medium. Of course there is Sesame Street, Electric Company, Zoom and the Discovery Channel mabe are exceptions. But, by and large, TV is entertainment pure and simple.
PSYOP professionals, however, can learn quite a bit by watching television as I did this past week in London. We stayed in a luxury hotel that had TV from: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, China and Japan not to mention Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.
I spent a fair bit of time flipping through any station that had Arabic commercials. Each station had its own unique flair and appeal. I suspect if I were a bit more analytical I would have tracked the nature of the goods, the models, the music, etc.
Some commercials were quite gaudy. Others were for top of the line fashion jewelry, a common denominator about the cars – mileage was not an issue.
These commercials were all geared for general audiences. If a new advertiser decided to avail themselves of the station they would need to focus their images and messages in the same general ways as the others to appeal to the target audience.
Today’s environment has made it clear that while the USG may have strict lines separating public diplomacy, strategic communications and PSYOP – the world does not. It is more than very likely that tomorrow’s PSYOPers will have to be part entertainer, part news journalist and media savvy across the spectrum of new media from international or regional TV to highly micro-focused web/pod costs and the ubiquitous mobile phone.
There is always a danger when you think you know more about a language that is not your own – a good example is probably http://www.alarabiya.net/views/2008/09/28/57394.html. I think the author was trying to invoke the famous fairy tail where the protagonist felt the sky was falling – something lost in the translation here serves as a really good example.
Next time you can, watch TV in a foreign language, especially the commercials. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.