Devilish Marketing

Although Karl Rove’s days in the White House are numbered (and some might allege that the number has routinely been stuck on 666), his corrosive impact on the politics and policies of this nation will be felt for years to come. It is unfortunate that this calculating and mean-spirited fellow is permitted to exit the grand stage of politics on his own terms—and to the applause of his co-conspirators—rather than in disgrace and under indictment. But then, if the last several years have taught the citizens of this nation anything, it is that fairness is an endangered species not offered protection under the Bush administration.

In any regard, to give the devil his due, Mr. Rove understood full well that success on the political stage is all about marketing and manipulation. Selling a product—whether it is a candidate, a policy, or a political party—ultimately has very little to do with the inherent value of the product and whether the consumer needs or benefits from it. Peddling such ware has much more to do with making the consumer think that the product is good and they cannot live without it, that it is essential to their safety, security, and well-being and it is vastly superior to anything a competitor might offer.

In order to manipulate the consumer in this way, the marketing of the product must be relentless. The message, or jingle, must be repeated over and over and over until even schoolchildren can recite it verbatim. Eventually, everyone knows—if not believes—that fast food is delicious and desirable, that infringements on human rights and civil liberties are necessary for national security, that Democrats are soft and unpatriotic, that dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam. Eventually, the public has difficulty discerning between the truth and the spin—and then buys the spin simply because it seems more familiar and less complicated. Plus, it comes in a nifty red-white-and-blue package, something even a preschooler would recognize and go for.

From the New York Times:

If It Says McDonald’s, Then It Must Be Good

Hamburgers, french fries, chicken nuggets, and even milk and carrots all taste better to children if they think they came from McDonald’s, a small study suggests.

In taste tests with 63 children ages 3 to 5, there was only a slight preference for the McDonald’s-branded hamburger over one wrapped in plain paper, not enough to be statistically significant. But for all the other foods, the McDonald’s brand made all the difference.

Almost 77 percent, for example, thought that McDonald’s french fries served in a McDonald’s bag tasted better, compared with 13 percent who liked the fries in a plain white bag. Apparently carrots, too, taste better if they are served on paper with the McDonald’s name on it. More than 54 percent preferred them, compared with 23 percent each for those who liked the unbranded carrots and those who thought they tasted the same….

Even milk tasted better in a McDonald’s cup, with more than 61 percent preferring it compared with 21 percent who liked the unbranded milk and 18 percent who thought they tasted the same.

The researchers also found that the more television sets in the house, the more likely a child was to prefer McDonald’s branded food, and that three-quarters of the families had toys from McDonald’s in their homes. [full text]