(This column was first published in the Amandala issue of Friday, March 31, 1995.)
As politics is the art of the possible, so is advertising the art of persuasion. Advertising (ads) is getting people to buy a product. It is the ultimate form of propaganda, very lucrative, very influential, very powerful, very dangerous. Prior to any ad campaign being mounted, a marketing survey is conducted; researchers study the psychological profile of the people targeted; analysis is done of their economic status and of their physical environment.
Once the market survey is completed, a variety of techniques is employed to establish why you need this product, why you can’t live without it. From the subliminal through half-truths and misinformation to the absurd and the comedic. The Americans, Madison Avenue, have so perfected the ads that they can market a non-entity to the Presidency.
Exposed to the American techniques, the budding Belizean agencies have copied them hook, line and sinker, limited only by the finance and technology in producing the ads. Although still lacking in their skill to create the subliminal (except when aided by American experts in the political campaigns), they have become rather adept at the half-truth, misinformation, the absurd and comedic ones.
The half-truth: a massive crowd will be at next political rally – no meeting yet held or massive crowd was in attendance when a perusal of said meeting showed only a few diehards were present.
The comedic: tourism, you make it happen; please, for whom?
The absurd: the poor man’s store, obviously suggesting a new definition of poor. The suggestion of getting a deal: term deposit now at 11%, not mentioning the 14-16% interest on loans.
There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but mostly not so; now that Belize is an American economic colony, Belizeans must start becoming aware of the use of ads to persuade and control their minds, to be skepticall that all that glitters is not gold; to know when to spend that hard to come by buck.