Friday, April 20, 2007

Will Advertising Trump Ridicule?

One of my recurring themes has been the thesis that ridicule is a far more effective weapon than indignation when it comes to shining a strong light on messes made by world leadership, whether in the public or the private sector. However, there may be an alternative if you happen to have a lot of money at your disposal; and that is television advertising. Consider the following item, written by Andrew Wallenstein for the Hollywood Reporter and subsequently related by Reuters:

Filmmaker Oliver Stone will direct a TV commercial questioning the Bush administration's military strategy in Iraq.

The Oscar-winning Vietnam veteran was hired by activist groups and to shoot a 30-second spot derived from video of U.S. soldiers and their family members speaking out against the war. Members of MoveOn will select one of 20 video interviews on its site, as well as on YouTube, for Stone to turn into a commercial.

"We have leaders in Washington who say they're 'supporting our troops' -- but the people who suffer most from their policies are the troops themselves," Stone said. "I decided to participate in this project because, as a veteran, I know that America needs to listen to our servicemen and women."

This appeals to me for a couple a reasons. The most important is that, for all the changes that the Internet may be bringing to advertising, the television spot is still a powerful way to get the word out to a mass audience. Of course, making the spot is only part of the strategy. The real trick will be placing it in slots where it will have the greatest impact, which is not always an easy matter. I am also intrigued by the prospect of Oliver Stone directing the spot, since we tend to associate him with the sprawl of epic proportions. I suspect that working within the limitations of 30 seconds will be a real challenge, but I am counting on him to rise to it.

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