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Thursday, April 12, 2012

How the Propaganda Machine works

~ A WWI poster to motivate Americans to buy 'Victory Bonds'

One of the themes we cover extensively here at 'A&G' is that this a concerted effort by many forces at work for mutual advantage to hard-push a belief that the US economy is in recovery.

We've explained many times who's behind it-- a triad of political, corporate and media interests.  And we've explained why- past recoveries were based on consumers feeling good and spending more making it a self-sustaining act.

And we've also expressed quite often why this time is very different-- to have a self-sustaining recovery, the consumer must have $ to spend and save i.e. good paying jobs & wages that rise in accordance with inflation, and not simply to get deeper in debt via credit and loans to buy more HDTVs.

If you sincerely believe we are in a 'recovery', you are either quite well-off and thus fully out of touch with real people or you've successfully bought into the propaganda machine.

Don't feel bad about yourself if you fit into category #2 because let us tell you, a propaganda machine is a very powerful subversive and submersive entity.  Takes quite a lot of effort to break free from its clutches.
~ WWII ad getting people to conserve fuel for the War by carpooling

To explain the concept of the propaganda machine better, we thought we'd switch from national economy to movies to demonstrate how strategic and all-encompassing an ad marketing blitz is.

Coming out this weekend we believe is a remake of the Three Stooges called quite ingeniously "The Three Stooges Movie".   Now we are not seeking to sway people on this film one way or another-- you go see it or don't.. completely up to you.   We're focusing only on the marketing side.

It seems 'Three Stooges' or 'TS' from now on, is expected to be a big money-maker for the studio producing it (Fox) and the goal is to get as high an opening weekend as possible.  So a large marketing budget has been set up to organize and orchestrate a massive PR campaign with specific goals.

In the case of 'TS', its for people to connote the film with fun, happiness, joyful escapism and the experience of a laugh-a-minute romp that you simply Must experience with friends or family.  Maybe the film will live up to this-- maybe it won't.   But that's the marketing strategy and from there the propaganda machine can be put into effect.

Certainly we all know that films advertise heavily on TV, specifically on channels and during programs that cater to their marketing demographics, in this case males.  So beyond normal ads, there are constant mentions of the upcoming 'TS' film during sports programming such baseball telecasts which included visuals at the bottom of the screen during breaks in the action.

Fox TV networks are quite famous for such ad inundation.
~ WWI poster to encourage enlistment to fight the gorilla "Hun"

During the NCAA finals, Fox tried to get an ad aired where 'TS' spoofed anti-drug ads.   CBS rejected it.  So alternate 'TS' ads were shown.  And while the anti-drug spoof ad wasn't aired, it was reported in entertainment news, available to view on YouTube as 'banned' to create a pretend-sense of edginess and overall became a form of free advertising for Fox.

The studio also arranges its stars to appear on every talk show imaginable from Letterman & Leno to "Good Morning Des Moines" to plug the film in some way.   On late night talk shows, everything is pretty much scripted with the producers going over the topics with the guests way before the show begins.

And a TV appearance usually go something like this:  Segment 1- actor talks about trivial things like favorite restaurant, dealing with raising babies or his/her pet dog 'Woofie'.  Cut to commercial.. then Segment 2- talk about nothing but the film.  Everyone laughs.. smiles.. and commercial.

In addition when a film is seeking to cater to Saturday Night Live's audience, it will negotiate for one of its actors to host.  In the case of 'TS', last week co-star Sofia Vergara guest hosted.  Magically as if by mere coincidence, there was a TV ad for the film immediately after opening monologue.  Imagine that!

So there's constant TV ads, internet advertising, posters & billboards and advertising in newspapers.  Often if a movie comes out that the studio knows will be panned (and we're not implying 'TS' will be, though we don't see any future Oscar nominations either) it will create ads that satirize this and make fun of itself.

This is strategic- portray itself as 'cool' and self-deprecating...
~ A Fake Homeland Security ad; the message/goal is still true

One of our staff mentioned while visiting Wal-Mart last night, in the movies & music section, there were 'TS' displays where original Three Stooges episodes and previous films by the Farrelly Bros. (who are directing the current remake) could be bought at special low prices.  This is a way to transfer happy emotions one may have to the original Stooges or past Farrelly Bros. films onto a new film that yet hasn't been seen.

Also a good way for Fox to profit off a stagnant back-catalogue.

So driven was Fox to advertise their film via all mediums, they even paid NASDAQ to have one of its stars ring the closing bell.  Here was the official Press Release on its website yesterday, "20TH Century Fox's THE THREE STOOGES: THE MOVIE, in theaters everywhere beginning Friday, April 13, will visit the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square.  In honor of the occasion, Sean Hayes (who stars as Larry) and Peter Farrelly, the film's co-director and producer, will ring the Closing Bell."

Wonder how much that esteemed "honor" cost Fox?

So we move to Friday and all the strategies have been deployed and the tens of millions in ad revenue spent up by the weekend.  Will it be a box office blockbuster?   Will it be a dud?   One thing is for sure-- no matter what happens opening weekend, there will be no marketing push for week #2.
~ Another Fake Homeland Security 'ad'; message/goal is equally true

The goal of a propaganda machine  can be very specific and targeted, such as promoting a movie, and it can be a very long 'seige'; a war of attrition, like selling 'recovery' to a nation that deep down knows it is bullshit.

The propaganda machine is an all-out orchestrated push to sell something-- a product, service, idea or belief.. All tools are at its disposal and when done effectively, can overtake one's logical reasoning and ultimately be quite persuasive.

This is how the Nazis conveyed its lies about genetic and ethnic 'superiority' vs 'inferiority'.  This is how politicians of all political stripes in all democratic nations get elected-- by conveying the opponent as 'this' or 'that' rather than discuss policy.

Sometimes the propaganda machine is harmless such as losing 90min of your life watching a silly movie.  Sometimes its quite harmful, like being lulled into a belief that the nation is economically on track so you will get more in debt while believing happy times are here.

Getting 'played' comes in different forms but ultimately its the same.