October 4, 2005
By Rebecca Hagelin
When you think of "marketing," what images come to mind?
Chances are, you're thinking of a large company that makes a
certain product -- food, cars, computers, you name it. In other
words, a physical thing you buy with money.
But what about ideas? Few people realize it, but the same marketing
techniques that companies use to induce us to buy a particular
product are just as useful when it comes to selling us an idea. And
just as companies can trick us into thinking a product is more
appealing than it really is, so companies (and others, from
politicians to the media) can fool us into believing an idea that
Don't believe it? Consider an example that David Kupelian, managing
editor of WorldNetDaily.com used when he spoke at The Heritage
Foundation last week. When you refer to people who have entered our
country illegally, what do you call them? Not long ago, they were
labeled "illegal aliens." This term, with its two negative words,
accurately conveyed two things: 1) the fact that those who enter
our country illegally have committed a crime and 2) that they
weren't one of us, i.e., American citizens.
But as David noted, the terms of the debate began to shift. First,
the phrase became "illegal immigrants" -- a negative and a
positive. After all, America is a nation of immigrants and their
descendants, so the term "immigrants" evokes positive images and
makes us feel more warmly toward these lawbreakers (although it
happens subconsciously, so we're hardly aware of it). Since then,
still nicer substitutes have emerged, such as "undocumented guest
workers." Hey, they're "workers," so that's good, right? And, my
goodness, a "guest" is someone we treat with hospitality and
warmth. The term "undocumented," meanwhile, leaves the impression
that they simply forgot to fill out some silly government-mandated
form. Who could be against hard-working guests who have a problem
But you've been sold a bill of goods. The fact is, those who hope
we'll ignore the crime committed by illegal aliens used proven
marketing techniques to sell you something -- and if you weren't
paying attention, you bought it.
This pernicious practice doesn't stop with border security. We're
bamboozled daily on a wide variety of subjects, from abortion on
demand for any reason to same-sex "marriage." As David notes in his
The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists and Pseudo-Experts
Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom: "The plain truth is,
within the space of our lifetimes, much of what Americans once
almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed,
gift-wrapped and sold to us as though it had great value. By
skillfully playing on our deeply felt national values of fairness,
generosity and tolerance, these marketers have persuaded us to
embrace as enlightened and noble that which all previous
generations since America's founding regarded as grossly
self-destructive -- in a word, evil."
What makes David's book so useful is the fact that he steps back
and allows the other side to explain their game plan, their efforts
to change the way you and I think. Take homosexual activists. It
looked as if the AIDS crisis of the 1980s would set their cause
back, but the activists weren't about to let that happen. Some 175
of them met at a conference in February 1988 and hammered out a
master PR plan. Two Harvard-educated researchers, Marshall Kirk and
Hunter Madsen, laid it out in book titled After the Ball: How
America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the '90s,
noting that they would counter negative publicity with "a program
of unabashed propaganda, firmly grounded in long-established
principles of psychology and advertising."
That meant relying on established manipulation techniques such as
"desensitization" (inundating the public with positive, gay-related
advertising) and "jamming" (attacking and intimidating critics in
order to silence them). As marketing expert Paul Rondeau of Regent
University explained, "If you can get [straights] to think
[homosexuality] is just another thing -- meriting no more than a
shrug of the shoulders -- then your battle for legal and social
rights is virtually won."
David views several other controversial topics from a marketing
perspective and illustrates the techniques used behind other big
lies, from the myth of church-state separation to the dumbing-down
of our schools. His highly readable style, combined with a plethora
of research and hard evidence, will convince many skeptics.
Rebecca Hagelin is a vice president of The Heritage Foundation and
the author of Home Invasion:
Protecting Your Family in a Culture that's Gone Stark Raving
First appeared on World Net Daily.
When you think of "marketing," what images come to mind?Chances are, you're thinking of a large company that makes a certain product -- food, cars, computers, you name it. In other words, a physical thing you buy with money.
Senior Communications Fellow
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