Marketing Madness (Politics in Lebanon) — Business marketing , i love life campaign , lebanon , lebanon marketing , lebanon politics , marketing , marketing concept , marketing in lebanon , marketing strategy , political marketing , politics lebanon , successful marketing — Marketing in Lebanon
Thursday, February 21, 2008

Marketing Madness (Politics in Lebanon)

I live in a country where every family has a political history. Every family has a martyr… or a victim. Every house has been damaged, at least once, by war. I live in a country where you cannot get to power unless you are politically supported by a party of some sort; and this even applies at university levels.

It is in this atmosphere, under this sky, that tensions started building up.

Here, everything is political; and everyday some new event drawing speculations takes place, leaving evidence free for interpretation since no “facts” are ever revealed or proven! Everyone’s an expert and each has a different opinion… even a 5 year old voices his comments confidently and holds his political party at heart.

Democracy at its best!

However, Lebanese are good businessmen… a bit too good for their own sake. They excel in commerce, even when the product is intangible; and so the insanity begins!

Every political party has its color; orange for the Free Patriotic Movement, military green for the Lebanese Forces, yellow for Hezbollah, flashy green for the Marada, darker green for Amal, light blue for the Future Movement, red for the Progressive Socialist Party…and the list goes on. “Beautiful!” you may think…. Well, not so much when you start being judged and labeled by the color of your clothes. Try any of these colors on Election Day or any other day where some leader has called for a political statement (they abound around here), and you’re sure to get hurt.

If this is not enough, what if I tell you that the way you honk your car could get you into trouble? Yes! Honking CAN and IS a political statement…. Since, believe it or not, some parties have their own “combination of notes” that makes them recognizable.

That, aside from the political songs and each party’s anthems and slogans… at some point, when political enthusiasm rises, they get played in night clubs! Not to forget the mobile ringtones…

Not crazy enough? Well check this: every single political party has a single leader they swear by; one, which can never be nor do wrong. Our entire history has been rewritten to fit each and every party’s point of view; now there’s so many versions that no one can guarantee any aspect is true! People argue on contradicting “facts” they feel strongly about. Our history book at school stops before 1975 since, starting that date, we failed to agree on a single version of the truth.

Of course we have each party’s logo, their own website; but one party even has its own product line to finance its activities (everything from pens to umbrellas, to bottled water and fuel!)

Ok, so this is not so bad… Let’s talk about propaganda! Freedom of the press! Every newspaper or television station has its political stand… talk about brainwashing! We’ve reached a time where everything you hear or read is biased and you have to interpret it in accordance to its source… but how did we get here?

Consider this; you had a percentage of neutral individuals in Lebanon. These were your guarantee. These were the reason for all the marketing effort. They were the people who shifted the balance from side to side. And so the fight had begun!

Speeches, poetic and patriotic statements; stereotyping and labeling events and people to promote certain ideas and turn the neutrals to your advantage… That’s sales. Associating adjectives or facts everyone repels to your enemies and you’re winning, it doesn’t matter if you’re mistaken as long as the trend catches on and everyone starts using your expressions.

However, they didn’t stop here, songs and video clips to support political views proliferated; but my favorite marketing tool remains the billboards. The more a political party advertised and showed its presence, the more its partisans and that of the opposing parties got attached to their beliefs. What people didn’t get is a fundamental lesson in marketing; when you already feel strongly about a product, advertising only makes you feel stronger about it.

The jackpot was the neutral cluster. Soon, the first advertisements attracted counter-advertising efforts and the madness took place. Marketing mayhem was a personal enjoyment. The Lebanese economy is barely striving to survive and political marketing is booming!

Shortly afterwards, no one was neutral anymore. For stupid reasons, everyone had unwillingly taken a side in the conflict. As it goes in social psychology it is easier to sell something when the person in question already made a pro-statement or took action to defend it. So the brother turned against his brother and the mother against her son, the husband disagreed with the wife and suddenly watching the news at home or talking about politics became unbearable.

Today, my country is agonizing from democratic overdose and political poison: an attestation to the power of marketing.


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