Marketing and propoganda

Are marketing and propaganda the same things? I was thinking about this over the last week as I was inundated and, by the end of the week, tired of two types of events happening this week in America. The first, most commonly called marketing, was the release of the iPhone. The second, more propaganda, was the release of Michael Moore's movie on health care called Sicko. I will state from the outset i am not very interested in either product. I do not plan to buy an iPhone, and I do not intend to see Sicko. However, I think the convergence of propaganda and marketing is an interesting concept.

I did a little (very little, actually) research into some online dictionaries into the definitions of marketing and propaganda. A typical marketing definition involved all manner of work associated with the transfer of a good or product from producer to consumer. Apple is working hard to get the idea of the iPhone to the consumer so we will want to buy it. They produce it, we buy it. It is a very easy example of marketing.

Propaganda was defined as ideas or information spread to either harm or benefit a group, idea, movement, etc. Logically, it is usually referred in reference to governments (Nazi propaganda, war propaganda), or used derisively when one side of an argument wants to put down the other point of view (that's not a valid point, it's pure propaganda). Propaganda is seen as 1 sided.

But isn't marketing? Are not the two exactly the same? If not from a strict literary and historical definition, but in today's society? When the government uses propaganda, it is trying to convince us (the consumer) their idea or belief (the product) is best, and we should purchase it (vote for them). Propaganda is normally not balanced, but neither is marketing.

My problem with the current structure of our society is that nothing is 1 sided. Many people lament the lose of journalistic integrity as that middle ground. That may be true, I don't know that I ever really believed most journalism was unbiased. Anyhow, how many times have you read an op-ed piece or watched a news segment where you knew, before it began, the argument about to be prevented? What is the point?

That brings me to Sicko. I think Michael Moore is an intelligent man who could become a strong advocate for what he believes. Instead, I believe that his presentation is so over the top and one sided, it does not convince anyone who does not already agree with him. It fires up both sides of the issue, but does not present a balanced argument in his favor. He loses subtly and, because of that, I don't find him interesting.

The iPhone is actually an interesting concept. I would be curious to see how much money apple paying for advertising time, then how much they spent per minute the iPhone was on the air. I read or saw numerous articles on not only the phone, but how Apple marketed the phone. Basically, it became additional publicity on how Apple published the phone, so the per minute exposure cost for the iPhone was actually significantly less than a normal analysis of marketing would have you believe. This is also true of movies or any big budget release. For example, if 1 million dollars buys you 10 hours of ads on TV, you are paying $100,000 / hour. However, if there is an additional 10 hours discussing your ads, you are paying $50,000 / hour. Then if there is an additional 1,000 views to YouTube watching this and hits to discussion boards and other op-eds about this, your cost continue to drop. Your product may not sell, but it won't be a secret.

So I know all about the iPhone, but I don't want one. I know all about what the administration tells us about the war, but I don't believe that either. I hate marketing. I hate propaganda. I hate new products, and I hate our politicians. It's all the same illusions, just focused on physical products or people, nothing more seperates them. I can't really believe this is what America is becoming. I don't believe either of them.

The more I live in America, the more disconnected I feel. I don't believe anything, from anyone, ever. This isn't just a problem of consumerism, it has crept into my personally and working life too. I don't trust anyone, because I always believe there is an ulterior motive. I am generally fairly solitary by nature, and I am comfortable with that because it is who I am. Recently, it seems to me I am talking more and more to people only when they need something, and never otherwise. Am I being used? I don't think so. I do really believe they are my friends, and they generally leave me to my solitude because I enjoy it, because I don't push them to go out with me, etc. I can't believe how much my cynicism is consuming me though, and it's affected by this weird constant propaganda marketing machine that is our government, that is our products, that is everything around us. I feel like it's suffocating me. There isn't anywhere I can go in America to get away from this, because it is seeped into the very lives of everyone around. Even if I don't follow it (sell the computer, lose the TV, etc), people I see and interact with will. In America, everywhere, I am trapped. Everywhere, to some degree given the parasitic spread of technology, I would be trapped. Everywhere i would be trapped.



I believe everyone is responsible for their own happiness. I also beleive there are a million reasons why nobody is happy, and a million other reasons why everone is happy. I don't even really know how to define happiness. Is it waking up in the morning happy to face another day? Is it ending my work day and knowing I can get home and drink wine and forget about everyone outside? Is it sitting in a park watching other people and realizing, hell, i'm not as bad as those people?

If I can't define happiness, can I be happy? If I switch jobs or cities or friends or hobbies, does it matter? I want the day to pass quickly. If it does, I'm happy. NOthing I don't like to do makes the day pass quickly. If I like what I am doing at work, the day passes quickly. If i am playing frisbee or drinking or hanging out with friends or reading a good book, the day passes quickly and I am, therefore, happy. Is that a childish view? I don't know, but it's as good a working definition as I have right now.