How Israel Needs to Market THIS War
Yesterday, I talked about long-term strategy for Israel, and what a marketing campaign for any given strategy would be. Oddly, it’s been many decades since I heard a politician talking about a long-term strategy. A term in office is 4 years, so let’s be real.
So, given that we are a democracy representing many different ideas and policies, and given that we are human, that is, we react to a situation rather than plan ahead, what can we do?
First of all, we can shut up. Just stop talking about it. Change the subject. That would be wisest.
If you look at our conflict compared to others in the world, we have very, very few casualties. If you look at terrorism, as terrorism, the point is to make a lot of publicity. Israel is helping the terrorist factions by publicizing them. Just stop it.
In the framework of shutting up, we must stop denying things, and stop calling the other side liars. Psychological studies are very clear. When you call the other side a liar, it reflects badly on you. Just shut up. Let them lie. You think our government never lies to us? Really. Don’t call the other side liars.
Most of all, please, please, stop posting the same gruesome pictures as the other side and showing they are lies. Why are you publicizing the other guy’s propaganda? Nobody probably saw that picture in the first place. Half of the people don’t read the text. It is horrible and bloody. There is a reason why respected newspapers do not put this horrific stuff on their front pages. It makes you look extremist and unsophisticated. Do you want to be known as the people who publicize horrible and bloody pictures just to prove a point? Then stop it.
Stop the Publicity Machine
One problem is we have a huge publicity machine. There was a time when publicizing our country made a lot of sense, brought in money, and helped us get defended by larger countries. Those times are past. The government, and especially the Israel Defense Force, needs to shut down their publicity departments.
The reason the IDF does not need publicity is head-slappingly simple. By definition, the armed forces’ mission is to kill people, destroy things, and undertake clandestine missions. What are you going to publicize? Why it is correct to kill people and destroy things? Get off it. You are an army. Don’t apologize or justify. That’s a bad path to go down. The only purpose of a publicity arm is to get people to join, like the US Marines. We don’t need that publicity because we have mandatory conscription. It’s a waste of our manpower. Put all those publicity guys at the front or in the clandestine missions.
Similarly, the only purpose of the government publicity machine should be to get tourists and business people to come to Israel. Pictures of the iron dome machines are counter-productive. Why can’t you be like Turkey? They publicize beautiful beaches. They never say anything about the Kurds. We have beautiful beaches. We even have a few Kurds, and we don’t mention them in our publicity either. But really. Use the publicity machine to talk about Israeli high-tech, industry and tourism.
Tell the Truth. About Yourself.
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you are going to say anything, say the truth about yourself. Don’t say anything about the other guy. This is true of humans and of countries. It makes you more human and sympathetic. People can listen to that.
Have you ever tried to prove you are right in a conversation with a human being? How does that usually go? Right. They start speaking louder, then you start speaking louder, and pretty soon someone says something they regret (or publishes horrible injured victim pictures), and everyone leaves with a crappy feeling. That’s how we are leaving our friends and enemies in the world. Feeling crappy and confused and having not changed their opinions one bit.
If I were to choose 3 messages for Israel in these difficult times, they would be as follows:
- The situation is really, really hard and complicated.
- We aren’t even sure we are doing the right thing, but we are doing the best we can under the circumstances.
- We are a Western, modern democracy, and we suffer the same conflicts of opinion internally as your democracy.
That’s the truth. The world can understand that. They can be sympathetic to that. When we go around saying “We are right and they are wrong,” we know it’s not the truth, and the world knows it’s not the truth. Then we wonder why the world doesn’t understand us. It’s because we aren’t telling the truth.
One of my bosses once said “Marketing is about telling the truth in the best possible light.” I truly believe that. We live in difficult times. Let’s just own up to it. The only way to get the world to support Israel is to get real, say the truth, and stop being so self-involved and self-righteous. In fact, that’s the only way to resolve the mess we are in.
- Get real.
- Say the truth.
- Stop being self-involved and self-righteous.
Words to live by.