Friday, July 7, 2017

Vietnam on Madison Avenue.

If you want to read a great book about digital advertising, the digital revolution, the new media landscape and a whole host of other marketing cliches, you might want to pick up a book I just read about Vietnam. 

The book is called "Hue: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam." It's written by Mark Bowden, who you might know from a previous book, "Black Hawk Down." You can read more about it here.

For those of you younger than I, Vietnam was a war not just of "communism" against "democracy," it was a war of "experts" against "reality."

Bowden's book is less about battles and military logistics and more about the deceptions perpetrated by experts like General Westmoreland who sullied statistics and reports of events to fit a pre-conceived storyline.

Westmoreland's storyline was that the combined forces of the north could only sporadically harass the powerful army of the United States. They couldn't possibly fight a pitched battle of the "European" sort.

Further, when the fighting did break out, we would surely, thanks to our innate superiority cause many more casualties than we would receive. 

The Battle of Hue, a key of the Tet Offensive in late January and February of 1968, belied both those precepts. The North Vietnamese staged a massive troop movement. They supplied tens of thousands of soldiers in the field. They gave as well as they got. 

While the North had fully occupied Hue (except for a small allied redoubt) Westy reported that there were just a few enemies in place--and that they were dying in droves.

It seems to me that much the same Weapons of Mass Deception are deployed in so much of what we do in the digital space. For instance, I am often forced to look at "social tiles," though in real life, I don't think I've ever seen one.

We are also bludgeoned by the myths of clickability and interaction.

We believe these things in-spite of what's "happening on the ground."

Maybe the point of this post can be best summed up by a single line from Chico Marx:

"Who are you going to believe? Me or your own eyes."

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