Propaganda works.

If I’d a penny for every time somebody told me they don’t watch advertising on TV or the net or anywhere else, so it has no influence on them, I’d be a rich man and able to afford a considerably more swanky website than this. The reality is that everybody is influenced by advertising in their purchasing choices, whether they think so or not. If you doubt that, ask yourself why the advertising business globally is worth about $600 Billion and projected to continue rising. It always does. Either that’s an obscene amount of money spent on something that doesn’t work, or it does work very well, thank you very much.

The other great misconception about advertising is how it actually works, and why it’s so successful selling any product. It’s not there to inform you, it’s there to persuade you. Ask yourself, when’s the last time you saw an advert for a car that listed important things like its fuel consumption, safety rating, insurance bracket, top speed, reliability or price compared to similar cars being offered by other manufacturers?  Every car sold from new is aimed directly at a certain profiled segment of the market and advertised accordingly. It doesn’t work on you objectively evaluating the relative merits of a particular car, hence barely any hard metrics about the car in the advertising.

Instead it works on your own self image at almost an unconscious level, and there’ll always be a message which’ll be repeated over and over via every outlet until something similar to a conditioned reflex is established between you buying that particular car and your rationalisations of that choice. It’s exactly the kind of car somebody like you should be driving. If pressed about why, you probably won’t know any of those figures about the car, but you’ll be sure you bought wisely. There’s an interesting and very readable book called The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard which goes into this area in more depth. Since it’s out of copyright, you can read or obtain a free soft copy of it on the net.

So, if you can persuade people to make the second most expensive purchase of their life without actually knowing much about it in any detail, you can do exactly the same with an idea or a political viewpoint, and that’s what’s been happening over the renaissance of nationalism and most particularly Donald Trump. The only difference is that hordes of people have been conditioned to hate both nationalism and Trump. Not to dislike, but to hate.

Ask them exactly why they hate him and they’ll tell you it’s obvious because he’s racist, bigoted, sexist, misogynist, stupid or whatever. If you ask for concrete evidence of why he’s all those things and more, the invariable reply is for God’s sake – everybody just knows he is. Persist with the question, and what’s called triggering will occur. They’ll get angry and frustrated because they don’t have a single evidential reason they can come up with for hating him so intensely because they’ve been programmed.

They have an extreme emotional viewpoint they simply can’t justify, but they absolutely know they’re right. Having any rational discussion about politics with a programmed person like that is futile, a total waste of your time. You might as well be explaining about daylight to a boulder in the back of a long and very dark cave.

They’re programmed people, beyond enlightenment. Don’t bother trying.


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7 Responses to “Propaganda works.”
  1. hunterson7 says:

    Timely and interesting insight.
    Cicero, the Roman orator, basically said the same thing. It worked well for him, until it didn’t.


  2. NoFixedAddress says:

    I laughed and laughed and laughed.

    Who could argue against ‘Open Societies’?

    J Walter Thompson, now Wunderman Thompson and controlled from UK by some bloke that lives there, got the down low from the OSS and whatever British from their deep delves into their own stuff as well as German, Japanese and Russian propaganda.

    It’s a bit like the ties that bind with Herr Google, Microsoft and Facebook. All good blokes.

    I can’t decide if I want a Big Mac and Coke or a Fanta.

    Decisions, decisions.


  3. philjourdan says:

    I agree. I have been influenced to buy things by advertising. I admit it. However, I object to the car part! For 2 reasons (this is for me personally only).

    #1 – I always check consumer reports. I know what I want, so I check their ratings to see what is best. I never watch car commercials because I do not want a car! I want a Pick up truck! (leans over and spits terbacky juice out the window).

    But #2 is the killer. I bought my first Pickem-up Truck back in 88. I had not seen any commercials about the model I bought. But I knew the reputation of their other vehicles (I was looking at several brands). I Found one I loved, got it a price I could afford (they did not want to see me back after that). And have stayed with that Brand and model since that time (I am on my 3rd, it having 210k miles/350k kilometers). Each one was bought from a different dealer, as I play them off against each other. And get great prices!

    But I totally agree with your premise. I just had to brag about my truck. 🙂


  4. JohnTyler says:

    Propaganda and its more innocent variant, advertising, works because it repeated incessantly (and works even better if targeted).
    As that great humanitarian and individual rights advocate, Joseph Goebbels, said, “repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”
    And it does not have to be a lie that is repeated; it literally can be anything. What matters is that the message never ever stops.

    It can be some guy selling pillows 24/7/365; and after a bit, folks by the millions start buying pillows.
    For those readers not in the USA, “MY PILLOW” TV ads have been a massive success for the pillow guy advertising them (they can only be purchased online), who happens to be the founder/owner of the company.
    Really now, who would have thought that some guy hawking pillows on TV would ever be successful. He is now a millionaire several times over.

    The never ending 24/7/365 media message that Trump is Hitler convinced enough folks to hate him, irrespective of the policies he implemented or if the citizenry is better off now than when he took office.
    The facts do not matter at all; the Trump hatred is purely emotional and visceral.
    It is akin to a religious belief.
    Thus is the power of propaganda.

    The media here in the USA realized they could promote a message enough times that folks would believe it.
    And it worked.
    The anti-Trumpers that I have spoken to just hate Trump; they cannot even cite one Trump policy they dislike.
    They just hate his guts.
    When any facts are forwarded, they are disregarded, they are irrelevant.

    There was quite the discussion on this very topic a few weeks back on
    Pretty much all the commentators were exactly in accord with Mr. Pointman.


    • philjourdan says:

      @John Tyler – Re: My Pillow – they are also sold at Walmart. My wife has trouble sleeping, so based on his advertising, I bought some for her. At first she scoffed at me! But then when a friend was coming to visit, she made me run all over town getting 4 more!!!

      So yes, I succumbed to the advertising initially, but then my wife provided the testimonial making me track them down!


  5. NoFixedAddress says:


    Debunking Propaganda

    Just for your and your readers’ information Jo Nova has notice of a webinar featuring herself, Peter Ridd and Alan Moran –


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